The FAQ on E&P: Chatting with Middle School Students about Oil and Gas

SPE Gulf Coast section member Vikrant Lakhanpal recently visited Olle Middle School in Houston, Texas.

Fueling young minds, that’s why Vikrant Lakhanpal recently visited Olle Middle School in Houston, Texas.

Lakhanpal, a production engineer at Proline Energy Resources, spoke with the students about the whole life cycle of energy production from oil and gas – geological exploration, drilling, production, transportation and refining.

“I got a chance to interact with the students and understand their perspective about the E&P industry,” he said. “It was interesting to understand what the young minds think about petroleum engineering as a career.”

A member of the Gulf Coast section, Lakhanpal based his presentation on the future energy outlook, increasing dependency on renewable energy and how the world will still depend on oil and gas 30 years from now. Lakhanpal said that even though a lot of research is happening in the renewable sector, it is not possible to become completely fossil fuel independent.

He also emphasized that oil production is a multi-disciplinary science, and the first principles of science are applied at each stage.

“I sometimes hear students ask why a certain subject is being taught to them,” Lakhanpal said. “They think it won’t be of any use in the future. That’s exactly why I wanted to give them the technical details of how things actually work. I wanted them to realize that petroleum engineering is not something out of the world; it is based on the principles of physics used to extract oil from ground.”

Lakhanpal created a trivia quiz game. He said he was concerned that the students had not been interested in the topic he presented. Had they paid attention? Would they be able to answer the questions? Happily, he received an over-whelming response.

“They asked questions about which courses to take, whether to go for an associate degree or a master’s degree,” Lakhanpal said. “I am glad I could make a difference and motivate them to take up STEM education. I am thankful to SPE for giving me this opportunity of making an impact in someone’s life. I will definitely make myself available again for such opportunities in future.”


STEM Day at Elmore Elementary in Houston, Texas

SPE member Randi Steele represented SPE’s Energy4me program and the Houston Museum of Natural Science at Elmore Elementary’s second annual STEM Day on Jan. 26. The program was organized by Crystal Williams, fourth grade STEM, computer science and robotics educator.

Williams instituted STEM Day as a way to motivate the students to think big about their futures and get them to focus on going to college. The day consisted of science presentations, robotics labs, a math competition and six science workshops.

Steele presented a basic discussion of fossil fuels and drilling for oil using materials from the Houston Museum of Natural Science where she is a master docent in the Weiss Energy Hall. Steele presented twice to large groups of about 30 fifth graders. They were very attentive and asked great questions.

“They loved learning about the rocks – especially the coal, halite, and sulfur samples,” Steele said. “Another highlight was showing the perforating gun and discussing the chemical explosive involved. This was a very worthwhile experience, and I look forward to doing it again!”




SPE Aberdeen invests $247,000 to support STEM education

Because of skills gap in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects in the UK, the Society of Petroleum Engineers’ (SPE) Aberdeen Section has reported investing almost $250,000 (£200,000) over five years to support initiatives designed around these subjects.

SPE Aberdeen’s Schools and Careers Guidance Committee plays a significant role in encouraging young people to study STEM subjects, which are fundamental to the energy industry’s future workforce. Activities such as workshops at the Techfest Festival of Science, which take place in Aberdeen, are supported by profits from SPE Aberdeen events and offer thousands of children the opportunity to get a hands-on introduction to STEM subjects each year.

Another important enterprise that SPE has supported over the years is Inside Industry, the only tool of its kind focused on providing first-class, industry-driven career information and advice. The career guidance website, which is targeted specifically toward the energy industry, has been rolled out across 300 schools in Scotland.

Since 2011, SPE Aberdeen has invested $98,000 (almost £80,000) in scholarships to support students studying oil and gas related qualifications to relieve the financial stresses faced by students and allow them to focus on their studies.

“Inspiring the next generation has always been, and continues to be, at the heart of SPE Aberdeen,” said Ian Phillips, Chairman of SPE Aberdeen. “We are committed to encouraging and supporting the industry’s next generation of talent by providing opportunities that otherwise would not be available. The oil and gas industry has a long future ahead, and it is essential that we do all we can to equip the future workforce with skills they need to drive it forward.”

All of SPE Aberdeen’s initiatives are funded by profit generated from its annual program of events, such as the Offshore Achievement Awards, its monthly technical presentations and networking meetings, and topical conferences including DEVEX, the SPE ICoTA Well Intervention Conference and the SPE European Well Abandonment Seminar.

As well as key initiatives such as Techfest, Inside Industry and student scholarships, other events and workshops which benefit from these profits include CV workshops and industry exhibition tours for pupils and teachers, creating vital links between schools and industry.

In addition to the financial support given by SPE Aberdeen, the volunteers in each committee give their time and expertise to develop and deliver workshops, events and share their passion and enthusiasm for STEM and the industry.

“The events we run not only encourage knowledge sharing and professional development, but also play a direct link in supporting the talent of tomorrow,” Phillips said. “One such example is the Offshore Achievement Awards. As well as celebrating success and innovation across the industry, the awards also provide the wherewithal to attract the next generation of workers.

“It’s particularly important in this current market climate that we work even harder to encourage the next generation to pursue interests in the industry, and reinvesting back into key events and initiatives through the offshore awards is a fantastic way to do so.”

The Offshore Achievement Awards will take place at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre on Thursday, 23 March, 2017. For more information please visit:



The journey from exploration to production!


Energy4me participated in the Education Week program hosted by the International Petroleum Technical Conference in Bangkok, Thailand. Students from various national schools around Thailand were invited to spend the week with industry professionals and present their IPTC science innovation projects. These projects were on display on the exhibition floor for the duration of the conference and the top 3 were chosen by a panel of industry experts.


Students and teachers participated in the Energy4me Hands-On workshop where they were taken on a journey of exploration, using tools such a sound waves and core sampling to gather data about sub surface geologic formations to better understand how engineers and geologists find oil. Further investigations into the concepts of pressure, density, porosity and permeability of rock formations helped them to better understand the science behind scientific exploration. And the final reward for being such good geological detectives, chocolate syrup and cola which were used to represent the different viscosities of oil when students and teachers tried to get the oil out by building their own pipes for extraction.


Finally the students were taken on an exhibition tour where they got to see the first hand some of the technology that was dealt with in the workshop. They were also introduced to the companies that sponsored the week long event like Exxon Mobil, Chevron & PTTEP.

exhibiton-tourSPE is proud to announce that in collaboration with PTTEP the Energy4me Oil & natural gas book is now available in Thai. This makes the book aviallabe in 8 different languages. The new Thai version was launched at the workshop and courtesy of PTTEP each student and teacher were given a copy free of charge.


Who Needs More! Rocks in Your Head?

In Oklahoma City, Okla., Chesapeake Energy Corporation recently hosted a program for science teachers called “More! Rocks in  Your Head.” how-rocks-are-born

Earth science training for our teachers is imperative. The one-day workshop provides third through eighth grade teachers with the background, vocabulary, hands-on projects and the motivation to teach the earth science curriculum.

The program includes lessons on:

  • Earth structures, igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks
  • Caves, soil,  sand,  erosion and deposition,  plate tectonics, land feature maps, fossils and global history
  • Geologic landforms, minerals, mining and reclamation and fossil fuels
  • Energy resources
  • Earth science careers

The “Hunt for Fossil Fuels” oil exploration game provides interactive learning about the energy industry. It relies on geology, geophysics and financial analysis and evaluation while using real seismic and well log data from the Denton prospect in Lea County, New Mexico.

Teachers received a “quarry load” of materials such as the Oil and Natural Gas book from the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the More! Roimg_0744cks in Your Head manual, samples of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks,  mineral samples and test kit. They also received “A Rock is Born” laminated poster, a copy of the Hunt for Fossil Fuels oil exploration game on CD and a  Tapestry of Time & Terrain map of the USA.

The program is headed up by Janie Schuelke, geoscience education consultant at Rocks in Your Head, which based in Houston, Texas. Schuelke promotes geoscience education for teachers in third through 12th grades.





Energy4me, taking a walk into the past in Bogota, Colombia.

The SPE Colombian Section hosted an Energy Education Day with 5th grade students from Liceo Rodrigo Arena School in Bogota, Colombia. The event was hosted at the Maloka Science and Technology Park, located in the neighborhood city of Salitre in the locality of Fontibon Bogota, Colombia.


Colombian section members introduced students to the many possibilities within the oil & gas industry with a basic introduction on how hydrocarbons are formed and what happens to them in the industry.


Students were also taken on a tour of the center which highlighted the formation of oil & gas by showing them what happens when large and small organisms die and are not decomposed.


Energy4me is a resource that can be used by anyone in the world who is willing to give their time to students and teachers to educate them about the vast amount of opportunities that are available if a career within the realm of STEM is pursued. Our global volunteers are a testament to this fact.


Diving Into Energy Education

High school students in Pune, India, conduct oil and gas experiments.


Volunteers from a university in India showed high school students how to “dive” into their Energy4me experiments.

Volunteers from the SPE student chapter at Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT) in Pune, India, recently hosted three different Energy4me workshops in local schools. Their deep “dive” into hands-on experiments not only attracted 450 high school students from the region, but also inspired them to learn more about a possible career in the oil and gas industry.

Each of the sessions began with an introduction about the importance of energy – oil and gas in particular – along with the perks of being a petroleum engineer.

Following the speaker sessions, the Energy4me volunteers helped the students conduct hands-on experiments illustrating some of the concepts the students had just learned: porosity, permeability, density, viscosity and perforated casings. The experiments proved too tempting for the teachers, as they quickly joined in the fun and participated alongside the students!

One of the experiments, the Cartesian diver, is named after famed French scientist René Descartes. This classic experiment demonstrates the principle of buoyancy and the ideal gas law. The “diver” can be a small tube, such as a drinking straw or eye dropper that contains a bubble of air. It is placed inside a plastic bottle, where that air bubble created neutral buoyancy, so the diver floats. Squeezing on the top of the sealed bottle decreases the volume and, therefore, increases air pressure, causing the diver to sink.

Watch it in action!

Students experiment with drilling techniques.

We received an overwhelming response from both the students and the teaching faculty about the experiment,” said Nishant Bhushan, student chapter secretary. “It proved to be a great learning experience for all the student volunteers as well. This experiment demonstrates that as the pressure declines in a reservoir, a gas cap is created.”

After completing the experiments, students were eager to learn more about the petroleum industry as a whole.

That’s where the third component of the Energy4me program came into play; students and the school libraries received copies of the Oil and Natural Gas book.

“The students saw the workshop as a very valuable event and were intrigued by the prospects of a petroleum engineer,” Bhushan said. “The workshop as a whole was a successful and intellectually enlightening event.”

The MIT student chapter is actively engaged in organizing various community outreach programs, and their hard work with Energy4me is no exception . These students understand the importance of attracting new talent for the oil and industry, so they conducted three Energy4me workshops at schools in Pune.


Energy4me at the Asia Pacific Oil & Gas Conference, Australia

Energy4me is truly a program that has global reach. Participating alongside the Asia Pacific Oil & Gas Conference and Exhibition in Perth, Australia, Energy4me hosted 120 high school students and 20 teachers. The workshop was privileged to have some amazing professional volunteers and excellent speakers to round up the message that the oil & gas industry is the best place to be if you want to be at the forefront of innovation, and not to mention the great opportunity to see all the exotic places of the world!

Mr. Ian Sylvester, VP Reservoir Management, Woodside Energy showing students some of the exciting aspects to working onsite.

Mr. Ian Sylvester, VP Reservoir Management, Woodside Energy showing students some of the exciting aspects to working onsite.


 Teachers learning about the difference between production of heavy and light crude oil, the importance of core sampling, how scientistcs use sound waves to see deep into the earth and why is porosity such an important concepts in oil & gas production.




Students getting their hands into some fun activities illustrating important scientific concepts within oil & gas exploration and production.

All these activities and more are available through Energy4me and all materials used are easily accessible within most grocery stores.