The "Barrel Award" has been part of the MSc Petroleum Geoscience course at Imperial College in the UK for many years. The Imperial College program started in 1976, and focused on the North Sea; seismic interpretation was done with color pencils.

AAPG adopted the program concept in 2007 and created a new competition that allows students from almost every country to participate. The competitions provide students a unique learning experience using data sets from around the world.

Although the technology has changed, the key learning elements of the program remain true to the original concepts pioneered by Imperial College. 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, and
  • The ability to give lucid oral presentations to a panel of senior industry experts.