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Interview with Osama Aziz, Winning Team of the IBA 2023

 Interview with Osama Aziz, Winning Team of the IBA 2023

King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM) Team represented by students from the Geosciences Department earned the First position worldwide in the Imperial Barrel Award (IBA) competition that was held virtually on Friday, May 19, 2023. This participation comes after the team won first place in the IBA Middle East competition that took place in person last March in Bahrain.

A brilliant team and PaleoScanᵀᴹ: First Place!

Can you introduce yourself?

Hello, I'm Osama Aziz. I graduated with a bachelor’s in petroleum Geology from Alexandria University, Egypt. During my undergraduate studies, I engaged in several trainings to deepen my understanding of the oil and gas industry, covering aspects from upstream to downstream operations.

Currently, I am in the final stages of completing my Master of Science in Geology at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, with my graduation scheduled for next month. My thesis focuses explicitly on applying digital outcrop modeling in exploration, with an aim to enhance the understanding of the spatial distribution of unconventional reservoirs. Alongside my thesis, I have been actively involved in various research projects. These endeavors have led to the publication of two papers, with an additional two under review. My engagement in the seismic sequence field also allowed me to present at three conferences, where I shared insights from these diverse research projects, separate from my thesis work.

A particularly notable achievement during my master's program has been my participation in the IBA (Imperial Barrel Award) team. Our team achieved a historic first-place victory worldwide from the Middle East, a first in the competition's history. I played a crucial role in seismic interpretation and geo-modeling in this team.

As I approach the completion of my master's degree, I continue to dedicate myself to advancing in the geology field, driven by a passion for research and innovation.


What exactly is the Imperial Barrel Award Program?

The Imperial Barrel Award (IBA) Program is an annual competition organized by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). This prestigious contest provides a unique opportunity for geoscience students from universities worldwide to analyze and evaluate subsurface datasets, typically related to petroleum exploration.

Here's a brief overview:

  1. Participation and Teams: The program invites teams of geoscience students from universities globally. Each team typically comprises five students pursuing a range of geoscience degrees.
  2. Data Analysis and Presentation: The students are given a dataset they analyze over several weeks. The dataset usually includes various types of geological data, such as seismic lines, well logs, and geological maps. The teams are tasked with interpreting this data to propose a strategy for petroleum exploration in a specific region.
  3. Mentorship and Industry Exposure: Throughout the program, teams often receive guidance from industry professionals who act as mentors. This aspect of the program provides valuable industry exposure and networking opportunities for the students.
  4. Competition and Evaluation: The culmination of the IBA Program is a competition where each team presents their findings and recommendations to a panel of industry experts. The presentations are evaluated based on various criteria, including the technical quality of the work, the presentation's clarity, and the exploration plan's overall feasibility.
  5. Awards and Recognition: Teams compete at regional levels first, with winners advancing to the global finals. The winning teams are awarded prizes, and participants gain recognition within the geoscience community, often opening doors for future career opportunities.

The IBA Program is highly respected in the geoscience community for its real-world relevance and the practical experience it provides students. It's a significant platform for budding geoscientists to showcase their skills and gain insights into the petroleum industry.

What motivated you to participate to the IBA?

My primary motivation to participate in the IBA was to engage with the prestigious and challenging nature of the competition. It was a unique opportunity to immerse myself in a real-world geological exploration scenario beyond the typical classroom environment. This program represented a platform where I could apply my academic knowledge in geology and petroleum exploration in a practical, high-stakes context.

Moreover, I was drawn to the prospect of working collaboratively with a team of peers, each bringing their expertise and perspectives. I anticipated that this team dynamic would enhance my technical skills and develop my abilities in teamwork, problem-solving, and effective communication under pressure.

Participation in the IBA also meant access to industry data and the opportunity to interact with experienced professionals and mentors. This exposure provided insights into current industry practices, trends, and challenges. It was a chance to learn from field experts and network with professionals and fellow students from around the world, expanding my professional horizon and connections.

 Finally, I was motivated to challenge myself, step out of my comfort zone, and test my capabilities against some of the best geoscience students globally. The competitive environment of the IBA was an ideal setting for personal and professional growth, pushing me to hone my skills and knowledge to a new level.

 In summary, my motivation for joining the IBA was driven by seeking professional development, a passion for geosciences, a desire for collaborative learning, and the pursuit of excellence in a globally recognized forum.

The IBA Team from the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (Saudi Arabia). From the left to the right: Khalid Al-Ramadan (Professor), Talal Al Uthman, Anas Salisu, Osama Aziz, Sara Kellal and Dr. Ardiansyah Ibnu Koeshidayatullah (Assistant professor). The team does not forget Mahdi Al-Mutlaq (Industrial Advisor, Saudi Aramco), absent for the photo, but who provided them with important scientific and technical support throughout the competition.
The IBA Team from the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (Saudi Arabia). From the left to the right: Khalid Al-Ramadan (Professor), Talal Al Uthman, Anas Salisu, Osama Aziz, Sara Kellal and Dr. Ardiansyah Ibnu Koeshidayatullah (Assistant professor). The team does not forget Mahdi Al-Mutlaq (Industrial Advisor, Saudi Aramco), absent for the photo, but who provided them with important scientific and technical support throughout the competition.

Why did you choose to use PaleoScanᵀᴹ in this context, and how it contributed to your success?

In the dynamic and demanding context of the IBA competition, selecting the right tools was crucial for our success. Among various software options, we chose PaleoScanᵀᴹ for its robust geo-modeling and geobody extraction capabilities. This decision was driven by several factors that aligned well with our project's specific needs and goals.

I took the initiative to learn PaleoScanᵀᴹ, utilizing the company's YouTube channel and online webinars, which proved exceptionally informative and helpful. The resources provided by the company were instrumental in quickly getting up to speed with the software's functionalities, allowing me to leverage its full potential in our project.

PaleoScanᵀᴹ's advanced algorithms and intuitive interface significantly streamlined our geo-modeling processes. Its powerful geobody extraction features were precious in accurately delineating reservoir boundaries and understanding the spatial distribution of geological features. This level of precision was critical for developing a coherent and viable exploration strategy.

Additionally, PaleoScanᵀᴹ offered unique advantages due to its integration capabilities with Python. This aspect was instrumental in customizing our analyses and enhancing our workflow efficiency. Applying Python scripts within PaleoScanᵀᴹ allowed us to automate repetitive tasks, process large datasets more efficiently, and implement custom algorithms tailored to our specific geological context. This flexibility was pivotal in achieving more refined and innovative results, setting our work apart from the competition.

Moreover, the software's ability to handle large datasets with relative ease enabled us to work more effectively under the time constraints of the competition. We could quickly iterate and refine our models, which is essential for adapting to new insights and making informed decisions during the project's progression.

In summary, our choice of PaleoScanᵀᴹ was a strategic one. Its advanced geo-modeling capabilities and the flexibility provided by Python integration significantly contributed to our success in the competition. My self-directed learning through the company's online resources further empowered us to deliver sophisticated and accurate geological interpretations, demonstrating our team's technical proficiency and innovative approach.

Finally, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to our academic advisor, Prof. Khalid Al-Ramadan. His guidance, support, and unwavering belief in our abilities were the cornerstones of our success. Without his invaluable contributions, our journey and achievements in the competition would not have been possible.

I am also immensely grateful to our industrial advisor, Dr. Mahdi Al-Mutlaq. His expertise and mentorship were instrumental in refining our skills and guiding us through the complexities of our project. His insights and encouragement were pivotal in helping us navigate our challenges and reach new heights of excellence.

A special thanks is also due to Dr. Ardi for his significant role in our journey. His guidance not only helped us improve our technical skills but also played a crucial role in maintaining a positive team spirit. His encouragement and support have been fundamental in keeping us motivated and focused throughout our endeavor.

Additionally, I must express my deep appreciation for my amazing teammates - Talal Al Uthman, Sara Kellal, and Anas Salisu. Each of them brought unique strengths and perspectives to our team, creating a synergistic environment where learning and collaboration flourished. Their dedication, talent, and camaraderie were inspiring and a constant source of motivation. I learned immensely from each of them, and their contributions were key to our collective success.

In closing, this journey has been a remarkable team effort, and I am profoundly thankful to each individual who participated in it. Their collective wisdom, support, and teamwork have left an indelible mark on my professional and personal growth.

I would like to thank the College of Petroleum Engineering & Geosciences (CPG) at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals for their endless support.

Eliis thanks Osama Aziz for this testimony and feedback. We wish the entire team the success they deserve for the future, and that they keep this passion for geosciences as long as possible!

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