Lessons from oil-finding competition

A mixed Delft and VU student team has entered the Imperial Barrel Award programme in March and learned presenting their findings.


The Imperial Barrel Award (IBA), organized by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), is based on an exercise at the Imperial College in London. Students are given seismic and drilling hole data and have to prepare a pitch talk on the petroleum potentials.

The AAPG has developed this approach into an international competition. Delft has joined the European division of the IBA competition in a mixed team of three master students from the faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences and two master students from the Geology faculty of the Amsterdam Free University (VU).

They had eight weeks from receiving the data to their presentation. Student Nicole Clerx says, “We had to combine seismic data with data from two wells so that we could identify depth, thickness and extent of geological layers.” Two faculty advisors, Gerhard Diephuis MSc. and Dr. Harry Doust, supported the students. Next, they had to translate their findings into an exploration pitch, answering how much gas or oil was there and what were the risks of a dry drill?

At the presentation in Prague (21 – 24 March), the Dutch team did not achieve a top-three ranking. Looking back, Clerx says she was happy with the presentation, but more experienced teams emphasized the risk analysis of not finding oil or gas and had better presentation skills.

“We more or less presented the outcome of our analysis”, says Clerx. “Others were very convincing in suggesting that here was a potential that one couldn’t afford to pass.”

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