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UL Geology students the best in the world in petroleum exploration

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For the second time, a team of University of Louisiana at Lafayette geology students proved it’s the world’s best at determining where to drill for oil. It won first place in the 2014 Imperial Barrel Award Competition, which was held in Houston Friday through Sunday, and received a $20,000 prize.

UL Lafayette is the first school to win the contest more than once. The University also earned first place in 2012.

“We’ve got a huge amount of momentum right now. The award is evidence that UL is truly the best in the world in petroleum geology,” said Dr. David Borrok, director of UL Lafayette’s School of Geosciences.

The team competed against 122 schools from six U.S. regions and six international regions: Africa, Asia/Pacific, Canada, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

This year’s team was composed of five students pursuing master’s degrees in geology: Jordy Babineaux, Sam Ely, Nicholas Geyer, Jolie Helm and Daniel Sutton.

Dr. Brian Lock, the team’s advisor, said the $20,000 award will be used for scholarships, equipment and software for future teams. Lock is a professor of geology at UL Lafayette. Mary Broussard, an alumna, and her colleague, Mike Quinn, were industry mentors for the team. Broussard and Quinn are geologists employed at Freeport McMoRan Oil and Gas in Lafayette who are also adjunct faculty members.

The annual contest is sponsored by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. UL Lafayette has participated in the contest every year since its inception in 2008.

Eight weeks before the competition, students are given datasets related to geology, geophysics, land, production infrastructure and other factors. Students analyze the information. Then, each team delivers a 25-minute presentation to a panel of industry experts and makes recommendations, such as “drill here” or “don’t invest further,” said Lock. The judges select the winning team on the basis of the technical quality, clarity and originality of its presentation.

Photo ID:
Shown, from left, are Dr. Brian Lock, Sam Ely, Jordy Babineaux, Jolie Helm, Nicholas Geyer and Daniel Sutton.