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Mon 22 Nov 2010 12:00 AM

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Driving force

The saying goes that if you want to be an oilfield expert, you read everything the SPE has produced on a given topic, and then you’re on your way. Regional director for the Society of Petroleum Engineers in the Middle East, Hosnia Hashim, talks exclusively to Oil & Gas Middle East about the challenges the organisation faces, and the great opportunities it is creating.

Driving force
Hosnia Hashim is regional director for the SPE in the Middle East.

Few, if any, women have risen to the elite tier of management in the global oil and gas industry. Certainly in the Middle East only a handful can be said to wield any significant influence. However, having broken through that glass ceiling, Hosnia Hashim is making greater industry participation from women in the Middle East’s principal industry a personal priority, and is has made impressive strides towards delivering on her commitment.

Hashim is the deputy managing director of North Kuwait asset of Kuwait Oil Company (KOC), the national oil company of Kuwait, one of the ten largest oil companies of the world. Hashim joined Kuwait Oil Company in 1982. Her experience was developed as a petroleum and reservoir engineer, and includes extensive contributions to the Kuwait upstream business, having held diverse and challenging leadership positions in KOC, spanning from reservoir management activities to corporate-scale projects.

Hashim has performed and led numerous integrated reservoir simulation studies for key reservoirs in Kuwait, including the second largest field in the world, Greater Burgan.

Outside of Kuwait, Hashim has plays an active role in professional societies, having chaired and sat on the committee of many regional and international upstream conferences. In 2009 Hashim was elected as the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) regional director for the Middle East, North Africa and India region.

Hashim has taken to the task with vigour, and says the work of the SPE has been instrumental in shaping the modern upstream industry.

“I was always interested in expanding my volunteer work at SPE, and I have been a member of this Society for many years. When I assumed the regional director role, I received a huge responsibility, as this region encompasses a very large area, not only the Middle East, but also North Africa and India,” she says.

Within that geographical footprint, Hashim explains, sits more than 60% of the world’s oil reserves and SPE has 19,742 members, organised in 24 Sections and 28 student chapters, in more than 17 countries.

“Ours is one of the most important SPE regions in terms of technical activities, events, membership and growth. Our student chapters encompass almost 4000 students; in what constitutes a strong 17.54% of all SPE student memberships in the world: the highest percentage!”

Hashim’s enthusiasm for equipping the student chapters – essentially tomorrow’s oilfield engineers and managers – with the skills and tools the SPE can offer its members has driven this aspect of the role to the top of her personal agenda.

“One of my priorities right from the beginning was expanding our activities with the young professional and student chapters. It can’t be overstated that our young members are the future of not only the SPE but also of the oil and gas industry,” she explains. In addition to tackling the issues of tomorrow, Hashim has made improving content and activities for the SPE in the Middle East today a focus area.

“Incrementally increasing the organisation’s activity level of the region, in terms of the number of conferences and workshops we hold has been important to me. This has been a success so far, and 2010 will see in total more than 30 workshops and conferences in this region alone.”

Co-ordinating a geography, and an industry so diverse and expansive in its reach is a challenge, says Hashim, but the workload is spread amongst representatives positioned at industry hotspots in order to maintain good access and face to face contact.

“In many ways, managing the SPE footprint in the region is a big challenege for sure. This region is not only very large geographically, but also very diverse in cultures and focus of our engineers,” she says.

“We deal with NOCs, IOCs, service companies and academia every day. The most important challenge I face is to keep a personal contact with the section leaders, because in this part of the world, we value in very, very high esteem the personal contact and networking with our colleagues and team members.”

Hashim says the regional coordinators play an invaluable role in facilitating this all important personal touch.

Not content to rely on the organisation’s current strength, Hashim has targeted growth for the regional SPE membership, both in terms of numbers, and what the organisation can offer. “I am constantly analysing growth opportunities for SPE expansion in the region, and recently I have led efforts to revitalise several inactive sections and engaged in a very active visits program to be able to bring directly the messages and objectives of SPE to many countries within my jurisdiction,” she says.

One of the steps being taken to improve the career trajectory for the new generation of engineers, and one which Hashim places great stock in, is embracing the mentoring system, whereby old hands take the time and effort to impart their skills and knowledge to the new blood.

“Developing the new generation of local engineers is vital. In most cases by law, the NOCs, main employers of the region need to incrementally increase the percentage of local employees rapidly,” explains Hashim.

Crucial role

Widely regarded as the most important benefit and strength of the SPE has been its unfailing ability to organise technical events of high quality for its members.

Its training and professional development opportunities attract huge numbers, and the prestige established by so many years allows the SPE to gather leading technical presentations and papers that enhances the knowledge pool across the industry.

Hashim says another asset of the organisation is the empowerment it provides to the local sections. “Each individual section is by design entitled to promote events, membership and activities in their own country, empowering the members in a great measure and providing them the real and effective opportunity for technical growth, leadership and networking,” she says.

“This empowerment multiplies immensely the opportunity of SPE to expand its benefit on a global, world-wide scale, achieving what we have today: a truly multinational professional society in the oil and gas industry,” she concludes.

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