Imperial Barrel Award

Competition


IBA Overview

AAPG's Imperial Barrel Award Program (IBA) is an annual prospective basin evaluation competition for geoscience graduate students from universities around the world. University teams compete to win scholarship funds for their geoscience department and the international recognition that comes from competing or winning in the competition.

The program is rigorous and contributes to AAPG's mission of promoting petroleum geoscience training and advancing the careers of geoscience students. 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 team delivers their results in a 25 minute presentation to a panel of industry experts. 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 will select the winning team on the basis of the technical quality, clarity and originality of presentation. 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.


Benefits for Students

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.


Testimonials

"The IBA competition allows participants to work closely with industry experts and UH professors, as well as motivated and like-minded students. Anyone pursuing a career in the oil and gas industry should seriously consider participating in the IBA. It is a fantastic opportunity that can only be done once. For this reason, one must be willing to commit fully to the effort. For my part, I hoped the IBA would offer practical knowledge of my chosen field. I earned my undergraduate degree from a university that does not have a dedicated “petroleum” focus, and I cannot imagine a better introduction to petroleum geoscience (sorry Dr. Bhattacharya) than the AAPG’s IBA competition. I gained so much knowledge from my participation in the IBA that I will always regard it as the first step towards what I hope will become a long career of learning. I am incredibly proud of our team and the success we celebrated this past year. The experience is certainly a team effort, and we could not have been so competitive without the excellent guidance of our mentors." - Jesse Ortega, 2012


Eligibility

Team makeup

1. Teams should be composed of Master level students. No team may have more than two PhD students on their team.

2. Students must have full-time enrollment status in the school participating in the AAPG IBA program. Students should have no more than one year cumulative professional petroleum exploration experience.

3. There must be no fewer than 4 and no more than 5 team members per team. All team members must be present at the local and global competitions for the team to be eligible to compete. Special circumstances must be cleared 2 weeks prior to the competition date with the local or global committees respectively. Teams may not change team members between the local and global competitions.

4. All students on the team must speak equally during the presentation. The de-facto language of the presentations in the Region, Section, and Finals competition shall be English. AAPG is not responsible for supplying or paying for an interpreter for any competition.

5. No student shall be allowed to compete in the IBA more than once. Previous experience would give that student's team an edge during competition and would deprive an inexperienced student of having the chance to participate

Team must demonstrate:

  • Evidence of rigorous and creative technical evaluations,
  • The ability to work to a strict deadline,
  • The ability to work effectively within a team
  • The ability to make decisions based on incomplete or inadequate data, and
  • The ability to give lucid oral presentations to a panel of senior industry experts.


History at UH

APRIL 2019 - UH Team Places First in AAPG International Imperial Barrel Award Competition

University of Houston's 2019 Imperial Barrel Award (IBA) team placed first in a field of 12 universities at the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) IBA International Competition held in San Antonio on April 1st - 2nd. The team, Aydin Shahtakhtinskiy (captain), Patrick Chandler, Spencer Fuston, Jacob Miller, and Andrew Stearns, took home first place trophy and $20,000 prize for the UH Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences AAPG Wildcatters student group of petroleum geology and geophysics students. The team's faculty advisers were Dr. John Castagna, professor of geophysics, Dr. Paul Mann, professor of geology, professor of geology, Kurt Rudolph. Industry advisers to the team include Gary Guthrie and Reynaldo Cardona.

The 2017 international winners, second place UniLaSalle, France and third place finishers, University of Oklahoma.


APRIL 2017 - UH Team Places First in AAPG International Imperial Barrel Award Regional Competition

University of Houston's 2017 Imperial Barrel Award (IBA) team placed first in a field of 12 universities at the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) IBA International Competition held at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston on April 1st - 2nd. The team, Eric Lunn (captain), Delaney Robinson, Andrew Stier, Leiser Silva, and Walter Reed, took home first place trophy and $20,000 prize for the UH Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences AAPG Wildcatters student group of petroleum geology and geophysics students. The team's faculty advisors were Dr. John Castagna, professor of geophysics, Dr. Paul Mann, professor of geology, Dr. Julia Wellner, professor of geology, Kurt Rudolph. Industry advisors to the team include Mike Liebelt and Marck Richardson.

The 2017 international winners, second place Eotvos Lorand University, Hungary and third place finishers Curtin University of Technology, Perth.

APRIL 2016 - UH Team Places Second in AAPG Gulf Coast Imperial Barrel Award Regional Competition

University of Houston’s 2016 Imperial Barrel Award (IBA) team placed second in a field of 12 universities at the American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ (AAPG) Gulf Coast IBA Regional Competition held at the BP Westlake campus in Houston on April 14-15. The team, Shanelle Gomez (captain), Jordan Dickinson, Jing Hua, Lingfei Mao, and David Mora, took home the second place trophy and $2,000 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 (Independent) and Mark Richardson with ExxonMobil.

The 2016 regional winner, University of New Orleans, will compete at the international competition at the AAPG meeting in Calgary, Canada in mid-June. The third place finisher was Texas A&M University.

APRIL 2014 - UH Team Places Third in AAPG Gulf Coast Imperial Barrel Award Regional Competition

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.

APRIL 2013 - UH Team Places Third in AAPG Gulf Coast Imperial Barrel Award Regional Competition

The University of Houston 2013 Imperial Barrel Award (IBA) team placed third in a field of 9 universities at the American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ (AAPG) Gulf Coast IBA Regional Competition held in Houston on April 12.

The team, Kyle Reuber (captain), Altay Sansal, Patrick Loureiro, Lindsay Aldrich, and Dutch Crews, 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 faculty co-advisors of the 2013 team were Dr. John Castagna, professor of geophysics, and Dr. Paul Mann, professor of geology.

APRIL 2012 - UH Team Places Third in AAPG Gulf Coast IBA Regional Competition

The University of Houston 2012 Imperial Barrel Award (IBA) team placed third in a field of 10 universities at the Gulf Coast IBA Regional Competition held in Houston on March 30. The team, Bryan Ott, Jesse Ortega, Jordan Sayers and Susan Green, took home a trophy and $1,000 prize for the UH Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences scholarship fund. The faculty co-advisors of the 2012 team were Dr. John Castagna, professor of geophysics, and Dr. Paul Mann, professor of geology.


How to Join?

Please contact our IBA supervisor Dr. Paul Mann.