Spath named new department head of petroleum engineering

Dr. Jeff SpathDr. Jeff Spath, chief executive officer of the Texas Oil and Gas Institute (TOGI), has been appointed department head of the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University, and will take up his duties on May 1, 2018.

Spath is well-suited for both his new position with the department and working for Texas A&M. A dedicated Aggie, he has built his professional life with Texas A&M’s core values in mind.

“My philosophy in leadership and in achieving business and academic success throughout my career is to set clearly defined goals, develop a motivated staff, and push teamwork and collaboration,” said Spath. “My initial focus will be to inspire the students and to put their interests first in every decision, to develop a culture of transparency, ethics and integrity, and finally to grow and maintain extremely close ties to industry for purposes of building our resources, defining our research efforts and providing jobs to our graduates.”

In his capacity overseeing TOGI, Spath has initiated, staffed and directed its research in engineering and education endeavors, which benefit both The University of Texas and The Texas A&M University Systems. The institute performs upstream exploration and production research and engineering projects utilizing graduate-level interns from both universities, with a focus on optimizing production and maximizing reserves from approximately 9,600 producing oil and gas wells on university land.

Prior to TOGI, Spath had a 32-year career with Schlumberger Limited, where he worked in all regions of the world and under many titles. Before his retirement in 2015, he was part of the global executive management team responsible for 26,000 employees and a $14.5 billion annual revenue.

While vice president of industry affairs for Schlumberger, he held the full-time position of president of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) from Sept. 2013–Oct. 2014. SPE is the oil and gas industry’s largest professional society, consisting of over 140,000 members in 180 countries. His presidential accomplishments included the implementation of a fundamentally new strategic plan for the society. He also strengthened petroleum engineering education and professional ties globally, and increased collaboration with related professional societies.

Spath received his undergraduate and master's degrees in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M, and a Ph.D. in reservoir engineering from the Mining University of Leoben, Austria. He is a distinguished member of the SPE, an active member of the National Petroleum Council and a distinguished graduate of the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering.

As he transitions into his role as department head, Spath is committed to keeping the department at the forefront of the field of petroleum engineering, with both academics and industry relations in mind.

“My overall vision is to ensure that the Texas A&M petroleum engineering department is clearly recognized as the best department globally, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels,” said Spath. “We need to develop and improve our department in several ways to ensure we are consistently number one nationally and internationally. Not simply for the sake of rankings, but for attracting and retaining the world’s best students, faculty and staff, and conducting relevant research to improve the finding, development and environmentally responsible production of oil, gas and water.”

Dr. Dan Hill will step down as head in January to pursue academic and research interests within the department, and Dr. Duane McVay, professor and assistant department head in academics, will serve as interim until the end of April.