Two Petro Students Finalists In Essay Contest

UPDATE February 20, 2013 -- Eric Angelos, junior in petroleum engineering, was the big winner. His essay was selected as the best in the state. He won $500 and was invited to read his essay in the rotunda of the Statehouse on Friday during Oil and Gas Day. Congratulations, Eric!

SANTA FE, N.M. February 13, 2013 – Two Petroleum Engineering undergrads, Eric Angelos and Mark Shaffer, have been invited to Santa Fe to participate in the Oil & Gas Day at the Capitol for the Young Ambassador Essay Contest.

Eric Angelos, a junior, and Mark Shaffer, a freshman, are among the top six finalists. They will be mentored by Karin Foster, Executive Director of the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico, to learn more about the legislative process. They will also meet with Governor Martinez and state legislators during their three-day visit, February 13 to 15.

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Eric Angelos (left) and Mark Shaffer are finalists in a statewide essay contest and are serving as 'junior lobbyists' in Santa Fe this week.


Another two dozen student members of the student chapter of the Society of Petroleum Engineers will be in Santa Fe for a banquet on Thursday and for Oil & Gas Day on Friday, where Tech will host a booth.

Angelos is a junior from Roswell. He is also an SPE Officer this year, finished a co-op position with ConocoPhillips this fall and has a second summer internship with Concho Resources this summer.

Shaffer is a freshman from El Paso, Texas. He is the SPE student chapter webmaster and is working under the direction of Dr. Robert Balch at the Petroleum Recovery Research Center.

Both students wrote essays about the economic impact of the oil and gas industry in New Mexico.

“New Mexico operates one of the largest severance tax funds in the world and it’s about 90 percent from oil and gas,” Angelos said. “That’s an astounding fact. And New Mexico pours most of that money into education.”

Shaffer said he learned a lot about economics while in the process of researching his essay.

“There’s so much information out there that it’s hard to comprehend,” he said. “I was only scratching the surface. I didn’t realize the amount of oil New Mexico produces.”

He found that the industry in New Mexico produces an average of 3.82 billion cubic-feet of natural gas per day, ranking sixth in the nation. The state produces 167,000 barrels of petroleum per day, ranking fifth in the nation.

Much of the state’s production comes from the Permian Basin, which is an ancient seabed that is roughly 250 miles wide and 300 miles long and straddles the New Mexico-Texas stateline.

Angelos, who graduated from Gateway Christian Academy in Roswell, said he’s looking forward to serving as a “junior lobbyist.”

The Independent Petroleum Association gave the “junior lobbyists” several bills that will have an impact on the industry.

“We’ll have the opportunity to get involved, read those bills and sit down with our representatives and discuss them,” Angelos said. “I think it’s a great opportunity to learn and for [legislators] to hear the perspective of younger engineers who are soon going to enter industry.”

Shaffer said he hopes to share facts and information about the oil-and-gas industry in New Mexico.

“It’s not all bad,” he said. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there.”

Both Shaffer and Angelos said they chose to study petroleum engineering thanks to influence of family members. For Shaffer, a great-uncle encouraged him to consider the field. Angelos said a family friend is involved in the business back home in Roswell.

Angelos interned for Concho Resources in Midland, Texas, last summer, where he worked on drilling and completion. He’ll do a similar internship this coming summer. He spent last fall near Farmington, N.M., working a co-op position with ConocoPhillips, where he designed a portable data-logger for wells that do not have advanced telemetry capabilities.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech