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Contact: Christine Payton May 3, 2012
(337) 482-6397, payton@louisiana.edu

A team of five UL Lafayette graduate students who are studying geology placed first in the prestigious 2012 Imperial Barrel Award Competition sponsored by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

Team members, led by Joey Grimball, tested their oil-prospecting skills last week during the AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition in Long Beach, Calif. They included Mike Lahey, Sarah Beth Maxwell, Daniel Dudley and Chris Hatamian. Faculty advisor was Dr. Brian Lock.

“The team came together and grew throughout the project. Hard work through the entirety of the project has paid off in our winning the IBA championship and this is a lesson we will take with us throughout our careers,” said Grimball, who enrolled at UL Lafayette specifically for applied petroleum geology courses.

Eight weeks prior to the competition, teams were assigned data sets from the North Slope of Alaska that included well logs, 2-D and 3-D seismic data, core information and geochemical data from an area of the world where oil and gas are produced. They analyzed that information using professional software donated by manufacturers including IKON’s RokDoc, Schlumberger’s Petromod and Seismic Micro Technology’s Kingdom Suite and made recommendations such as “drill here” or “don’t invest further.”

“We were expecting to put in at least 40 hours a week on the project,” said Grimball. “But, as a team, we put in 70 to 80 hours a week.”

Last month, the team placed first at the Gulf Coast level in Houston, beating out the University of Houston, Texas A&M, LSU, University of Miami and other teams from the region for a total of 10 teams.

Once at the international competition, teams had to go before a panel of judges and make 25-minute presentations on their findings and answer any questions.

Capturing second place was the team from the Khon Kaen University in Thailand, representing AAPG's Asia/Pacific region, and third place went to the team from Colorado School of Mines.

More than 100 schools participated including finalists Penn State, University of Oklahoma, University of Texas at El Paso along with teams from Venezuela, France, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

“The reputation of the UL Lafayette program in geology has been enhanced by Imperial Barrel successes and the graduate program has more than doubled from six years ago, attracting interested students from around the country who seek careers in the petroleum industry, and graduates have a near perfect record in the lucrative job market,” said Lock.

AAPG’s Imperial Barrel Award program is an annual competition in which graduate student teams analyze a basin data set. Students gain experience using real technology on a real data set and benefit from feedback from an industry panel.


About UL Lafayette
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is the second largest university in the state, with nearly 17, 000 students. It’s a public institution that awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. It includes diverse offerings from the humanities to scientific research and is a national leader in areas like computer science, biology and nursing. Its student-athletes – Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns – compete in NCAA Division I, the highest level of collegiate competition.

Document last revised Thursday, May 3, 2012 8:01 AM

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