MAY 21, 2008

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OUís ConocoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics students take top global honor

A team of geology and geophysics graduate students from the University of Oklahoma Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy beat out students from around the world to take first-place honors – as well as a $20,000 award and trophy – in the Second Annual American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ convention, held recently in San Antonio, Texas.

The team from OU’s ConocoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics – composed of Elizabeth Baruch, Roderick Perez, Romina Portas, Carlos Russian and Carlos Santacruz, all first-year master’s students –bested 34 university teams representing the United States, Austria, Canada, France, Russia, Scotland, England, Indonesia and Nigeria.

The program was initiated to encourage students from universities worldwide to compete in a petroleum exploration program similar to that which they will experience when working in a petroleum company. Participating teams were provided with a complete data set from an area (Australia’s Cooper and Eromonga basins, in OU’s case), including seismic and well logs. Within a six- to eight-week period, the teams are required to analyze the data, develop a portfolio of exploration drilling prospects and present their findings in a formal presentation judged by industry exploration experts.

In the initial regional round, the OU students won the “Mid-Continent Region” award.  The team then traveled to San Antonio with 11 other regional winners to participate in the semi-finals, which pitted two groups of six teams competing for the chance to participate in the finals presentation the following day. The OU team, along with five other semi-finalist teams, then advanced to the finals. The OU team's final presentation awarded them with first place.

"The team was absolutely flawless in their science, application and presentation, which included a statistical analysis and ranking of seven drilling prospects they developed on the basis of sound geologic principles,” said Roger Slatt, OU professor of geology and geophysics and the team’s adviser. Slatt also holds the Lew and Myra Ward Chair in Reservoir Characterization and is director of the Institute of Reservoir Characterization in OU’s Sarkeys Energy Center.

Last year, in the inaugural year of the competition, which was held in Long Beach, Calif., OU’s team placed third, behind the University of Aberdeen and Imperial College of London, both of which also participated in this year's competition.