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Featured, Aera At Work Jan 13, 2022

Competition connects students to real work in the field

Aera Energy project challenges students and data-science professionals from around the world

Aera Energy challenges engineering students and the data-science community to tackle real oil-field problems in a new approach to engagement and recruitment.

In partnership with Studio X, Aera Energy hosted a “Steam Optimization and Other Oddities” competition called Xeek, which challenged participants to identify ways to maintain oil production levels while reducing the amount of steam required for operations. The competition challenged participants to create flexible models characterizing steam growth in reservoirs by utilizing years of real data from Aera’s Belridge oil field.

The competition targeted engineering students at the Colorado School of Mines but was open to the broader data-science community. More than 80 submissions came in, and five winning teams took home awards totaling $25,000.

“This competition helps us connect with engineering students and those from the geoscience community,” said Rahul Tottempudi, an Aera field engineer who was part of the team coordinating the challenge. “We were able to engage with individuals with different backgrounds, and levels of knowledge and experience by having them take part in this competition and it was really interesting to see what they came up with.”

Tottempudi, a Colorado School of Mines graduate, says the challenge lets students showcase their creativity while Aera team members get to know students outside of a typical interview environment. Students saw it as a learning experience too.

Top row (left to right) Anil Betta and Shravan Koninti of Mr. Professor Team; Thomas Martin of Colorado School of Mines; and Pavle Mihajlovic. Bottom row (left to right) Rosie Zhu and Owen Huff of Colorado School of Mines.

Top row (left to right) Anil Betta and Shravan Koninti of Mr. Professor Team; Thomas Martin of Colorado School of Mines; and Pavle Mihajlovic. Bottom row (left to right) Rosie Zhu and Owen Huff of Colorado School of Mines.

 “It was a very interesting data set,” said Rosie Zhu, who with her teammate Owen Huff, took home the second-place award in the Colorado School of Mines prize pool. “I didn’t realize enhanced reservoirs had such a long history already. We were able to take a look at a really large data set for hundreds of wells over a 20-year-period. It was really impressive to see the things I learned in textbooks in real life.”

Enhanced reservoir techniques offer prospects for producing an estimated 30 to 60 percent, or more, of the reservoir’s original oil in place according to the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM).

Tottempudi said the challenge highlights some of the talent the university has to offer.

“Giving students the opportunity to be creative and come up with some innovative solutions that’s the big delivery of this challenge. Do we have a model that we could use in our everyday work? No, we weren’t expecting that. But it was also a way for us to experiment with how we could potentially utilize external resources to help find solutions to practical problems,” he said.

Congratulations to the winners of the Steam Optimization and Other Oddities competition:

General Prize Pool

  • 1st Place – Anil Betta and Shravan Koninti – Mr. Professor Team (India)
  • 2nd Place – Pavle Mihajlovic (Canada)
  • 3rd Place – Thomas Martin (Colorado School of Mines)

Colorado School of Mines Prize Pool

  • 1st Place – Thomas Martin
  • 2nd Place – Owen Huff and Rosie Zhu

For more about the Xeek competition and to meet the winners, visit blog.x.studio/post/meet-the-winners-of-xeeks-aera-energy-challenge.

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