Each year, the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and the Petroleum Equipment & Services Association (PESA), through their Petroleum Education Center, put on the PetroChallenge for their five partner schools. This year the University of Houston hosted the event on January 21-23, sponsored by Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Shlumberger, and UH Energy. IPAA/PESA’s competition is the only PetroChallenge open to high-school students and this years’ was the largest PetroChallenge with 380 students participating from the Energy Institute High School, Milby High School, Westside High School, the Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy in Houston and South West High School in Fort Worth.
Students were divided into teams of four and each team created an oil and gas exploration company with a starting fantasy budget of $200 million. The goal was to create the most value for their company, while learning roles associated with geology, engineering, and the business sector of the oil and gas industry. The teams studied seismic surveys and environmental maps to determine the best place to find hydrocarbons, farmed-in and out partnerships with other teams, chose rigs and subcontractors to drill and considered CSR in their quest to maximize profits. Occidental executive V.P. Glen Vangolen was enthusiastic about the competition process and commented on the technology used. “The simulation is a great tool that encourages students to make socially and environmentally responsible business decisions as they apply their academic and technical knowledge to produce energy economically.”
The overall winning team, self-named “The Petrollers,” was comprised of one student from Milby, Westside, YWCPA and one from South West high schools and will represent the U.S. in the international PetroChallenge. The Petrollers attributed their success to distributing the work – one team member was constantly drilling while the others did research to find the next block to explore, and one member was in charge of negotiating partnerships with the other teams.
The 2015 PetroChallenge was a great success and the participants and winners enjoyed the “hands-on” experience in the oil and gas industry.