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Geology students again stake claim among world’s top oil prospectors

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University of Louisiana at Lafayette geosciences graduate students are once again among the world’s best at pinpointing where to drill for oil.

A team of five students pursuing master’s degrees in geology placed second during the American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ Imperial Barrel Award competition on May 20.

UL Lafayette team members Austin Fellmy, Hannah Hawkins, Bryan McCallister, Camron Mire and Michael Young competed against colleges and universities from across the world. The team’s faculty advisor is Dr. Davide Oppo, an assistant professor in the School of Geosciences.

The Imperial Barrel competition required teams to determine the prospects for a potential oil reservoir. Students analyzed datasets related to geology, geophysics, land, production infrastructure and other factors.

Based on its findings, the UL Lafayette team delivered a 25-minute presentation to a panel of industry experts. It included recommendations about promising locations for drilling and places that were unlikely to be productive. Presentations were judged on technical quality, clarity and originality.

Joining UL Lafayette among the competition’s top three teams were the Institut Polytechnique UniLaSalle in France, which placed first, and the University of Santander in Colombia, which was third.

UL Lafayette’s strong showing in Imperial Barrel Award competition is nothing new. The University’s team has won the competition three times – in 2012, 2014 and 2018. It remains the only three-time winner of the event, which began in 2007. Learn more about the AAPG’s Imperial Barrel Award competition.

Photo caption: Members of the School of Geosciences’ Imperial Barrel team at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, from left, are Bryan McCallister, Hannah Hawkins, Michael Young, Camron Mire and Austin Fellmy. Photo credit: Courtesy of UL Lafayette's School of Geosciences