Fifty years ago, in November 1947, Brown & Root helped Kerr-McGee build the first out-of-sight-land offshore platform that produced oil. The date is widely celebrated as the birth of the modern offshore industry. In the years since this historic occasion, Brown & Root has continued to pioneer in the design and construction of offshore pipelines and platforms. Along with the rest of the offshore industry, the company has helped develop technology capable of finding and producing oil in deepwater and in harsh environments around the world.
This history puts a human face on the process of technological change. Using the words of many of those who took part in Brown & Root's offshore activities, this book recounts their efforts to find practical ways to recover offshore oil. Building on lessons learned in the Gulf of Mexico before and after World War II, the company's personnel adapted offshore technologies to conditions encountered in Venezuela, the Middle East, Alaska, and other regions before becoming one of the first engineering and construction companies to confront the challenge of North Sea development in the 1960's.
Through times of boom and bust in the oil industry, the search for effective technology had continued. The process has not always been smooth, but the results have been impressive. As we enter a new and exciting era in offshore technology, the history of the first fifty years of the industry provides a useful context for understanding current and future events.
Part I: The first challenge: Creation of the modern offshore industry in the Gulf of Mexico. Before the dawn. Beyond the horizon. A maturing system: the Gulf of Mexico in the 1950s. New sophistication: Platform design and pipelining innovations during the 1960s. Wading into deep water: The evolution of platforms during the 1960s and 1970s. Part II: The challenge of new and extreme environments: Depth, earthquakes, ice, and fire. Brown & Root Marine goes abroad. Mind stretcher of the century: Project mohole. Inner space pioneer: Taylor Diving & Salvage. Offshore California and Alaska. A crash program in Mexico's Bay of Campeche. Part III: The North Sea's challenge: Rough waters, hostile conditions. Confronting a monster: The early natural gas industry. Ekofisk and the challenge of early North Sea oil. Ring master at the Forties Field. Project management in a boom era. Epilogue. Index.
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- © Gulf Professional Publishing 1997
- 3rd November 1997
- Gulf Professional Publishing
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Joseph A. Pratt is Cullen Professor of History and Business at the University of Houston. He has written several books about the history of Houston-based businesses, including Texas Commerce Banks, Baker & Botts law firm, and Texas Eastern Corporation.
Tyler Priest earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is completing work on a history of natural resource policy and foreign relations between Brazil and the United States.
Christopher J. Castaneda is an associate professor at California State University, Sacramento. He has written extensively on the natural gas industry, including histories of the early cross-country pipelines and of Texas Eastern Corporation and Pan Energy.
The authors of this book have an established track record in writing serious company histories rather than the all too common vanity publishing that dominated the genre, and this is valid and well wrought addition to their collective canon. (The Journal of Energy Literature, Vol. V, No I)