• The Great Yarmouth SPE Section Celebrates 40 Years

    From Boom to Evolution: The Great Yarmouth SPE Section Celebrates 40 Years

    As the Southern North Sea oil and gas industry boomed in the 1970s and 80s, the need for a platform for professional exchange and collaboration grew. In 1984, this need was once again met with the establishment of the Great Yarmouth Section of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), 10 years after the Aberdeen SPE section and 13 years after the establishment of the first SPE section in the UK, the London section.

    The SPE Great Yarmouth Section arrived at the heart of the industry's golden age. Major oil and gas companies like BP, Shell, and ExxonMobil had a significant presence in the region, driving exploration, development, and production activities. The section provided a vital space for engineers from these companies, alongside independent operators and service providers, to share knowledge, discuss technical challenges, and stay abreast of the latest advancements in the field.

    One of the section's signature events became the "Oil Baron's Ball" – an annual extravaganza, not unlike the first Offshore Europe conference held here in Great Yarmouth under the name "Oiltech" in 1971. Many will recall the highlight of the SPE season the Oil Baron's Ball - a popular event attracting 450 plus attendees which celebrated the industry and the chapter activities in the SNS and onshore at the East coast gas terminals. The annual event fostered a vibrant community atmosphere, providing opportunities for networking, cultural exchange, and creating lasting memories. The current board recently paid homage to those members that we know who have passed away, including 4 former Oil Barons.

    However, the industry landscape in the Southern North Sea began to shift in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. As some of the major oil and gas companies matured their assets and production in the region declined, the section faced new challenges. The number of engineers working in Great Yarmouth dwindled, impacting the section's membership and activities.

    Despite these challenges, the SPE Great Yarmouth Section continues to adapt and evolve. They remain committed to fostering a strong technical community within the region, even as the industry landscape changes. The section's legacy lies in its role as a cornerstone of professional development and knowledge sharing during the Southern North Sea's golden age, and its continued efforts to support the engineers who shape the industry's future.

    Photo below: Great Yarmouth Petroleum Section gathering in Christmas 1999, taken at the Hotel Shadingfield before it got turned into a casino, with 4 present board members. Out of the directors for the 1995/96 season only 2 from that period remain as local board members namely Clive Skoyles, and Phil Smith.