Graduate Student Team Recognized for Best Investment Opportunity and Other Accolades in SEG EVOLVE Program

Program Involved 23 Universities Worldwide

A team of six Ph.D. and M.S. students from the University of Houston’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences participated in the 2020 Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) EVOLVE Program. They were recognized for presenting the “Best Investment Opportunity” as well as the most “Aggressive Investment Opportunity” in their basin.

Northland Basin
Seismic profile and interpretation by the UH SEG EVOLVE team across the Northland Basin.

The 2020 SEG EVOLVE program attracted participation from 23 universities from around the world.

The dataset provided to the UH EAS team was the offshore Northland Basin of northwestern New Zealand, a frontier basin that has yet to produce a significant oil or gas discovery like its nearby neighbor, the Taranaki Basin which has yielded many gas discoveries.

The Houston Hobbits
UH SEG EVOLVE team photo of “The Houston Hobbits” was recognized as the “Best Team Photo.”

The team was also recognized for having the “Best Team Picture” which was judged on creativity and featured a “Lord of the Rings” theme that was selected by the team as best representative of their New Zealand study area.

The UH team, dubbed “The Houston Hobbits,” was led by Spencer Fuston (Ph.D., Team Captain, Geology), Andrew Stearns (M.S., Geology), Anne Fosli (M.S., Geophysics), Joseph Stone (Professional M.S. Geophysics ’20), Regan Robinson (M.S., Geophysics ’20), and Matthew Storey (M.S. Geophysics ’20). The team’s faculty advisor was Dr. John Castagna, who started the first UH SEG EVOLVE team in 2015.

In addition to a faculty advisor for guidance on petroleum exploration, the SEG EVOLVE program enlisted the help of many industry mentors to advise all the teams which included Allen Bertagne (founder of the SEG EVOLVE Program) and Dr. Michael Forrest.

The SEG EVOLVE Program is a five-month, non-competitive, annual prospective basin evaluation program designed to give students direct experience in conducting multidisciplinary subsurface integration projects using real-world seismic, wireline, core, production, and other data. The program, which is primarily sponsored by Halliburton Landmark, allows students to utilize modern technology such as the Landmark DecisionSpace Cloud Platform or locally-installed Petrel/Kingdom interpretation software for technical integration of real-world datasets, all for the goal of recommending the “Best Investment Opportunity” to a board of potential investors.

Similar to the renowned AAPG IBA Program, the EVOLVE Program also provides students with the ability to gain a fundamental understanding of the economics involved in prospecting by examining the study area from a petroleum engineering perspective.

As stated on the SEG website, the EVOLVE program provides an emphasis on collaboration across all teams and promises that “you will experience the ambiguous, elusive, and poorly understood world of Mother Nature and face the challenge of drawing conclusions and making decisions with insufficient information.”

Through bi-weekly virtual meetings with program mentors and other teams, as well as a designated course taught by Dr. Castagna titled “Advanced Seismic Exploration,” UH students gained practical experience and guidance in performing exploration workflows. In addition, all teams received access to Halliburton’s iEnergy platform and in collaboration with IHRDC gained unique access to courses and tutorials designed to prepare students for a career in petroleum exploration.

For five months, the team utilized Petrel to analyze 2D, 3D, and wireline data to analyze their assigned basin structure as well as PetroMod to conduct basin modeling to understand the thermal history.

The team conducted their final presentation in May 2020 where a panel of 15 judges representing various major industry companies around the world provided their expert opinion. The team was also invited to present at the 2020 SEG Annual Meeting where they pitched a shorter, concise presentation focused on selling their main prospect.

Additional Information

SEG EVOLVE Program Information
SEG EVOLVE Recognition Presentation

- Spencer Fuston, UH EAS SEG EVOLVE Team Captain