IBA Competition: An Investment in Excellence

Participants in the AAPG-AAPG Foundation’s annual Imperial Barrel Award competition already know of the program’s significant impact on their education and its lasting value to their careers. But for those who support the IBA through contributions to the AAPG Foundation, the sense of accomplishment may permeate to even deeper levels.

They know that supporting the IBA is more than an investment in the future of petroleum geology. It is an investment in excellence. The IBA is an annual basin and prospect evaluation competition using real datasets to analyze hydrocarbon potential. Designed after a similar program at Imperial College, London, it was created to train aspiring petroleum geoscientists and to introduce them to careers in the industry.

Participation is open to all universities teaching a post-graduate program in geoscience. As a joint AAPG-AAPG Foundation program, it also provides corporate sponsors with the opportunity to support excellence in future petroleum geoscientists.

The 2019 global IBA competition is well under way, with semi-final events being held in all AAPG Sections and Regions; and the program’s popularity is as robust as ever, attracting 902 participants from 175 schools around the world.

The global finals will be held at this year’s AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition in San Antonio.

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Participants in the AAPG-AAPG Foundation’s annual Imperial Barrel Award competition already know of the program’s significant impact on their education and its lasting value to their careers. But for those who support the IBA through contributions to the AAPG Foundation, the sense of accomplishment may permeate to even deeper levels.

They know that supporting the IBA is more than an investment in the future of petroleum geology. It is an investment in excellence. The IBA is an annual basin and prospect evaluation competition using real datasets to analyze hydrocarbon potential. Designed after a similar program at Imperial College, London, it was created to train aspiring petroleum geoscientists and to introduce them to careers in the industry.

Participation is open to all universities teaching a post-graduate program in geoscience. As a joint AAPG-AAPG Foundation program, it also provides corporate sponsors with the opportunity to support excellence in future petroleum geoscientists.

The 2019 global IBA competition is well under way, with semi-final events being held in all AAPG Sections and Regions; and the program’s popularity is as robust as ever, attracting 902 participants from 175 schools around the world.

The global finals will be held at this year’s AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition in San Antonio.

Since its inception 14 years ago, more than 5,390 graduate students from more than 518 universities in 76 countries have participated, earning their schools tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship funds.

The program is a win-win-win-win situation:

  • Participating students gain an elite honor through completion of an arduous exploration exercise in a simulated corporate environment.
  • For universities, the program enriches the school’s geoscience curriculum, provides an opportunity to win scholarship funding and places both an industry and academic spotlight on their programs and provides an opportunity to win scholarship funding.
  • For exploration companies and energyrelated firms, sponsoring the IBA offers a rare opportunity to support the growing need for petroleum geoscientists and to select future job candidates who have proven an exceptional ability for innovative thinking and complex problem solving.
  • For individual contributors, the satisfaction of being part of the profession’s future is priceless.

Past IBA Participants

Consider the words of the late Ken Nemeth, a longtime, passionate IBA supporter and promoter who played a key role in the program’s development over the past decade.

“The future of our industry rests upon young people willing to step up and face challenges,” he said. “The IBA program whets the appetites of this future generation of explorers. It is a wonderful program to promote our industry, and Schlumberger (Nemeth’s employer) is proud to be a part of it.”

And then there’s John Castagna, who participated in the 2012 event as a faculty advisor for the University of Houston’s team:

“In short, I was simply amazed by the IBA experience – I have never seen a group of students show such enthusiasm, learn so much and mature professionally to such an extent in such a short period of time,” he said.

“I can confidently state that students who have participated in this program have a huge career head start as compared to those who have not participated,” Castagna added. “The experience of going through the rigor of being responsible for developing and presenting real prospects, in a few weeks, working as a team, is an experience that is usually not duplicated by summer employment, or something that most entry-level explorationists experience for some time.”

And students, too, know of the value – both immediate and long term.

Nick Lagrilliere, now with Maersk Oil, but in 2008 a member of the University of Aberdeen’s IBA team, said, “The competition gives you a good overview of the entire exploration process, allowing you to work through it with real data. You also develop some great soft skills as it is all about team work when you are working with a tight deadline. And, of course, there is the opportunity of presenting to the panel of industry judges.

“Working as an exploration geoscientist now, I can say it gave me an advantage when starting my job and it also sets you apart in recruitment process. I have seen the competition grow in subsequent years and it is a real pleasure to see what enthusiasm drives the teams.

“I can really recommend anyone considering a career in the upstream oil and gas business to participate. It is well worth the effort.”

Participants’ IBA experience can be good for AAPG, too – Lagrilliere is a current member of the AAPG Advisory Council.

Want to know even more about the IBA? Visit IBA.AAPG.org for more details.

Want to provide your support to this valuable program? Write to foundation@aapg.org, or call (918) 560-2644.

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