UH Team Places Third in Field of 13 Universities in AAPG Gulf Coast Imperial Barrel Award Regional Competition
Teams Analyze a Dataset in Eight Weeks and Present Results
2014 UH team members from left: Travis Tillman, Fabiola Ruiz, Katherine Tilghman, Luan Nguyen, and David Wearden.University of Houston’s 2014 Imperial Barrel Award (IBA) team placed third in a field of 13 universities at the American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ (AAPG) Gulf Coast IBA Regional Competition held at the BP Westlake campus in Houston on March 20-21.
Team members Katherine Tilghman (captain), David Wearden, Travis Tillman, Fabiola Ruiz, and Luan Nguyen took home the third place trophy and $1,000 prize for the UH Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences AAPG Wildcatters student group of petroleum geology and geophysics students. The team’s faculty co-advisors were Dr. John Castagna, professor of geophysics, and Dr. Paul Mann, professor of geology. Industry advisors to the team include Mike Liebelt of Marathon Oil and Mark Richardson with ExxonMobil.
The 2014 regional winner, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, will compete at the international competition at the AAPG meeting in Houston in April. The second place finisher was Texas A&M University.
The universities are divided into two divisions.
- Western Division: UH, University of Texas at Austin, Stephen F. Austin State University, University of Texas at San Antonio, Rice University, and Texas A&M University
- Eastern Division: Louisiana State University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Tulane University, University of New Orleans, Auburn University, University of Alabama, and Mississippi State University.
Four new teams were added to the Gulf Coast section this year.
The AAPG’s IBA program is a rapidly growing, annual prospective basin evaluation competition for geoscience graduate students from universities around the world. University teams compete to win scholarship funds for their department and the international recognition that comes from competing or winning.
In this global competition, university teams analyze a dataset (geology, geophysics, land, production infrastructure, and other relevant materials) in the eight weeks prior to their local competition. Each five-person team delivers their results in a 25-minute, carefully crafted, rehearsed, and polished presentation to a panel of industry experts. This year's dataset included wells, a three-dimensional seismic data set, and a gravity data set from the Dutch North Sea.
Students have the chance to use state-of-the-art technology on a real dataset, receive feedback from an industry panel, impress potential employers in the audience, and win cash awards for their school. The judges select the winning team on the basis of the technical quality, clarity and originality of presentation. Five minutes of intense questioning by the panel of five judges selected from the petroleum industry test the students’ understanding of their data and their depth of knowledge.
The IBA is a hands-on opportunity for students to experience the creative process and the high-tech science that is the foundation of the energy industry today. IBA competition veterans are increasingly recruited upon graduation by oil companies given their immersion and hands-on foray into the world of the oil finder. Two experienced explorationists from Houston-based oil companies advise the team and help to critique their presentation through the lens of their many years of exploration experience.
This is the third consecutive year that UH has placed third in the IBA competition. In 2013, UH placed third behind Texas A&M University (first), and the University of Texas at Austin (second), and in 2012 UH placed third behind University of Louisiana at Lafayette (first) and Texas A&M University (second).