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Geosciences students placed at a regional competition of petroleum exploration

Published: 04/06/2018

By: Candis Birchfield

For the first time in Auburn history, Department of Geosciences graduate students placed highly at the prestigious annual competition of the Imperial Barrel Award, or IBA, in Houston, Texas. Eleven schools from the Gulf Coast region competed, including six schools from Texas (University of Texas at Austin, Texas A & M University, University of Houston, Rice University, University of Texas at San Antonio, Stephen F. Austin State University), three from Louisiana (Tulane University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, University of New Orleans), and two from Alabama (Auburn University and University of Alabama).

Although Auburn University is not known as an “oil-patch school,” the team secured third place overall, beating all of the Texas teams and, notably, unseating last year’s champion the University of Houston. 

Teams in the competition were required to demonstrate evidence of rigorous and creative technical evaluations, work on a strict, eight-week deadline, function effectively as a team, make decisions based on incomplete or inadequate data, and provide lucid oral presentations to a panel of senior petroleum industry experts.

The Auburn team explored petroleum prospects in the Bight Basin located offshore southern Australia and consisted of graduate students Shifat Monami, Collin Sutton, Jacob Thompson, and Benjamin Weinmann.

Auburn has been sending a team to the IBA competition since 2011. The team is advised by Ashraf Uddin, professor in the Department of Geosciences, and industry mentors, Jonathan Collier and Herb Martin (both Auburn alumni), and Joseph Beck, Neville Crowson, and Ben Byerly of the Energen Resources.

IBA is an international competition that originated at Imperial College in the United Kingdom, and is now coordinated by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG).
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