A Review of 50 Years of SPE Oilfield Chemistry

Célia Silva, Katherine Hull, Alan Beteta, Ken Sorbie, Eric Mackay

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This paper reviews the past 50 years of the SPE Oilfield Chemistry Conference to understand how the event and papers published at it have evolved, what function does the conference serve today, and what future trends should the oilfield chemistry community anticipate and adapt towards.

All the papers from the 26 conferences run by the SPE since 1973 have been collated and analyzed for data such as topic, keywords, authorship (and number of authors), number and type of organizations involved, and number of citations (to 2022 Q4). The data are plotted to enable analysis of the evolution of trends over time. In addition, professionals in the earlier, mid and later stages of their careers contribute their perspectives on the conference content and what benefits they derive from participation.

Over the years the number of topics has expanded, as have the number and range of contributors. For example, in the first year of the conference (1973) there were 12 papers on 8 topics, written by 23 authors, averaging 2 authors per paper. In the most recent year (2021), there were 68 papers on 11 topics, with an average of 4.8 authors per paper. For a majority (7 out of 12) papers in 1973 the lead authors were from academia, with only one paper from an operator, whereas by 2021 there was a more balanced spread, with 37% papers led by universities/research institutes and the remainder well distributed amongst operators, service companies and chemical manufacturers. While the overall number of topics and papers has expanded over 50 years, some topics have appeared and then disappeared, and others have made a comeback. Indeed, for six conferences between 1977 and 1985, the word "geothermal" was included in the conference name, before being dropped again. In 1973, the paper contributed by an operating company was cited 8 times more than all the other 11 papers put together, whereas 85% of the citations at the following conference are associated with six university authored papers.

Much has changed in the past half century, and yet some of the papers from the early years remain very relevant today, and will undoubtedly impact how we address future challenges. The oil and gas industry has been challenged to engage with the Energy Transition: we show that the technologies and information introduced at this conference are and will be at the forefront of the emerging energy production landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSPE International Conference on Oilfield Chemistry 2023
PublisherSociety of Petroleum Engineers
ISBN (Print)9781613998748
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2023
EventSPE International Conference on Oilfield Chemistry 2023 - The Woodlands, Texas, USA
Duration: 28 Jun 202329 Jun 2023


ConferenceSPE International Conference on Oilfield Chemistry 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Chemistry


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