18 September, 2020

Want to Help Promote the Future of Petroleum Geoscience? Become an IBA Industry Mentor

An Unforgettable Experience That Is Both Personally Rewarding and Beneficial to Young Geoscientists


For those of you who have enjoyed a career in exploration and even for those of you new to exploration (particularly IBA alums), AAPG has an opportunity for you to become involved in teaching students in the IBA program to achieve a greater understanding of the basin in which they are exploring for hydrocarbons. That is, to be an industry mentor to a requesting school for a coach, as in the Global Mentor program or to continue to be an IBA coach in 2021 at a previously identified school. 


A joint program of AAPG and the AAPG Foundation, the the Imperial Barrel Award program is an annual prospective basin evaluation competition for geoscience graduate students (and by exemption, undergraduates) from universities around the world. The program is a rigorous hands-on opportunity for students to experience the creative process and the high-tech science that is the foundation of the energy industry today.

Initial Concept Background: The Imperial Barrel Award was founded in 1976 by the Imperial College in the UK.  The first "Barrel Award" was held as an master’s petroleum geoscience course in 1976, where students interpreted seismic from the North Sea using color pencils!

This program continued at Imperial College until 2007, when AAPG adopted the Imperial Concept program and expanded it to incorporate new technology, new datasets, and include students from every Region and Section of AAPG. 

Who Participates: Five member teams of geoscience students, usually those students interested in a career in the oil and gas industry, from universities around the world.  AAPG provides a regional dataset with 2D/3D seismic and well data (e.g. petrophysical logs, cores, core analysis results, pressures, fluids, well tests, geochemistry, stratigraphy, hydrocarbon shows, micropaleontology and other relevant information).

IBA Advisors: Coaches to the student teams are comprised of one faculty advisor and two industry mentors. An industry mentor is a person with exploration experience. Teams may additionally receive support, encouragement and insights from a school’s IBA alums, professors and colleagues during their presentation practice sessions.

Timeline: Students have eight weeks to complete their interpretation. Final presentations are sent to AAPG upon completion. (should we mention the IBA webinar here?)

Local Competition: Student teams compete by delivering their interpreted results in a 25-minute presentation to a panel of industry experts, either in person or virtually. Judges select the winning Region and Section teams on the basis of technical quality, clarity and originality of presentation. The winning team advances to the Global Competition at the ACE Convention (2020 was held virtually on June 5-6, 2020).

Judging on Key Learning Elements: Although this program has evolved with technology, the key learning elements of the program remain true to the original concepts pioneered by Imperial College. IBA Teams must demonstrate:

  • Evidence of rigorous and creative technical evaluations.
  • The ability to work to a strict deadline.
  • The ability to work effectively within a team.
  • The ability to make decisions based on incomplete or inadequate data.
  • The ability to give lucid oral presentations to a panel of senior industry experts.


Evaluation Goals:  

  1. Complete a technical assessment of the petroleum potential of the basin/area.
  2. Define the key plays, petroleum systems, leads/prospects and risks.
  3. Make recommendations on future exploration activity based on prevailing technical and economic conditions.
  4. Now that you’re familiar with the basics of IBA, please consider registering to be a global mentor and coach a 2021 IBA team in need. These are schools who request industry mentors when they register their team. 



    How do I mentor an IBA team?

    Register to be a global mentor to an IBA team in need in 2021, here.

    Click on the “Register as an Industry Mentor” box, enter your name, contact information, and subject matter expertise.

    If you are an exploration geoscientist, a subject matter expert in regional tectonics, geophysics, basin modeling, petrophysics, geochemistry, petroleum systems, or an IBA alum…we need you!

    This is your opportunity to give back by giving forward of your time and expertise to aspiring petroleum geoscientists from around the world on perhaps their first attempt at deciphering an exploration dataset.

    What is the Mission and Purpose of the Global Mentor Program?

    The mission of the IBA Global Mentoring program is to promote and facilitate a worldwide volunteer network of experienced exploration geoscientists to serve as mentors to IBA students.

    The purpose of this program is to solicit volunteers who are willing and capable of enhancing a student's understanding and interpretation of their dataset through their coaching of petroleum system elements and processes, seismic interpretation, and risking of plays and prospects.

    Who are Global Mentors?

    IBA mentors are exploration geoscientists, geophysicists, geochemists, or past IBA student members who volunteer to serve as technical advisors to an IBA team. There are geologists like you who have an opportunity to expand your advising roles to student teams in need of coaching on their dataset to ensure they are competitive by interpreting all the elements specified in the IBA competition rules.

    Global Mentor Roles and Responsibilities:

    The role and responsibilities of a global mentor is to serve as a technical coach by providing technical advice and insights, to monitor deliverables outlined in the IBA Rules and Procedures, to review the team's critical step progress and to help pave the way forward to the team's final presentation with all the boxes checked in which they will be critiqued by a panel of IBA judges.

    Global mentor, your requirement is to meet with the team for one hour per week, likely in a teleconference or online chat platform. If you are located near the school, in-person visits to work with the team members are a real plus.

    You can learn more about the IBA program and the rules of engagement as an IBA mentor by reviewing the Rules and Operating Procedures, Section 4: Industry Mentors.

    You may not be an expert in all aspects of exploration, but this is where you can help us by networking with your colleagues to join in this inaugural effort to provide coaches to IBA students in need of industry mentors.

    Global Mentor Guidelines

    Teams may invite industry professionals as mentors to review and advise them on their presentations.

    1. Teams may invite a maximum of two industry mentors to provide mentorship on analysis and presentation.
    2. Such mentors must be advised by the faculty advisor as to the purpose and goal of the program prior to participating as a consultant.
    3. Consultants may instruct students on how to perform a task, advise as to presentation content or encourage students to consider alternative ways in approaching the task required by the program.
    4. In no form, manner or method may the mentor actually perform the work required in the program. Violation of this rule will result in the immediate dismissal of the team by the IBA Committee from the IBA program for that or upcoming year, depending upon the date of the infraction.


    Next Steps After You Register:

    1. Weekly updated spreadsheets of registered industry global mentors (from the AAPG IBA Mentor portal) are sent to all IBA Regional and Sectional coordinators for their review.
    2. Coordinators will partner, on a first come-first served basis, those schools requesting industry mentors on their official school team’s registration form.
    3. Coordinators will identify two appropriate mentors, based on the level of exploration experience and subject matter expertise, from the weekly list and send an email of introduction to both the mentors and the school’s faculty advisor.
    4. It is the responsibility, at this point, for the identified global industry mentors and the faculty advisor to do a “meet and greet” to outline such matters as the day and time they will meet, either in person or virtually.
    5. Upon the school’s receipt of the AAPG distributed dataset, it is the responsibility of the faculty advisor/team captain to forward the dataset to the mentors


    So, if you are not currently aligned to participate as an industry mentor with a university, I hope you take this next step and register to be a global industry mentor to an IBA team in need.

    We all look forward to working with you in the Global Industry Mentor program!