A Memorial University team calling themselves Rock Enerji, have emerged as the clear winners of the Canadian regional Imperial Barrel Award.
Despite considering themselves the underdogs, Tiffany Piercey, Burcu Gacal Isler, Jennifer Cranshaw and Adam Gogacz – all graduate students from the Department of Earth Sciences – successfully beat participants from three other Canadian universities to win a place at the world championships.
The Imperial Barrel Award is a competition for geosciences students from around the world sponsored by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. It takes place in Denver, Colorado, in June. To get there, 89 teams from Canada, the United States, Europe, Asia Pacific and Africa competed in regional play-offs to determine the 12 teams who would go forward to the next stage of the competition and vie for the top prize of $20,000.
The teams were given eight weeks to review a case study with the task of finding hydrocarbons in an unfamiliar geographic area. During the competition they had to showcase their results in a 30-minute presentation to a panel of industry experts. The best teams that either discovered the most hydrocarbons or presented the best sales pitch for finding the new oil would score the highest grades. The competition gives students good hands-on experience in practical work in the oil business.
The Canadian competition saw Memorial University go head-to-head with students from Dalhousie University, the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta.
Dr. Elliott Burden, an Earth Sciences professor at MUN and the team’s coach, said the four participating Canadian universities all have strong petroleum geology programs.
“Memorial’s win demonstrates to the oil industry that we are a respected and respectable institution that is able to do this sort of work,” he said. “It certainly demonstrates that to our provincial government and to the general public as well. We’re doing our jobs and doing it well.”