Perspectives: Cary Moomjian, Ensco: Industry needs new generation of leaders, association ‘stalwarts’

Posted on 28 January 2011

By Linda Hsieh, managing editor

Cary Moomjian (center), Ensco, has been going to IADC’s Annual General Meetings for more than 30 years. He believes the industry should encourage young and high-potential people to attend more events such as these. At left is 2009 IADC chairman Claus Hemmingsen, Maersk Drilling, and at right are 2011 IADC chairman Matt Ralls, Rowan, and his wife, Amy, at the 2010 IADC Annual General Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, late last year.

Cary Moomjian (center), Ensco, has been going to IADC’s Annual General Meetings for more than 30 years. He believes the industry should encourage young and high-potential people to attend more events such as these. At left is 2009 IADC chairman Claus Hemmingsen, Maersk Drilling, and at right are 2011 IADC chairman Matt Ralls, Rowan, and his wife, Amy, at the 2010 IADC Annual General Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, late last year.

For Cary Moomjian, this industry is all about the people. Early in his career, he left private law practice in southern California to join Santa Fe Drilling Company because he liked the people he had met while representing the company. Thirty-five years later, it is still the people of this industry who keep Mr Moomjian excited and active in the business. “I really enjoy dealing with IADC and the people. That’s the essence of it,” he said.

Mr Moomjian’s three decade-plus industry career has been devoted to two companies, both of which underwent significant growth and transformation during his tenure. At Santa Fe, where he led the legal and contracts departments for most of his 26 years with the company, one of the biggest milestones came when it was acquired by the state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corp in 1981.

“In retrospect, the acquisition couldn’t have come at a better time. Through the next decade, as oil prices collapsed and the industry went into a protracted slump, Santa Fe was able to navigate the downturn better than most drilling companies because it was privately owned and essentially debt-free,” he said. “It was about the only company in the world that was buying new offshore rigs in the late ’80s and throughout the ’90s.”

Being owned by a foreign government didn’t come without its challenges, however. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Santa Fe employees working in Kuwait were some of the very first American hostages taken. Mr. Moomjian recalls hearing the news while on vacation in Utah. He hopped on the next flight back to Santa Fe’s headquarters in California to help manage the crisis. “It was a very intriguing time, and a very uncertain time, for the company,” he recalled.

Santa Fe moved to Dallas in 1993. When it merged with Global Marine and moved to Houston in 2001, Mr Moomjian decided to leave the merged company. “I was very fortunate as the only remaining driller in the Dallas area was Ensco. When the GlobalSantaFe merger was announced, the first phone call I received was from Ensco. It was a virtually seamless transition,” he said.

Mr Moomjian joined Ensco as vice president, general counsel and secretary in 2002 and began overseeing the company’s legal and risk management departments.

As he embarks on his ninth year with Ensco, he noted how much the company has grown – especially in its jackup and deepwater rig fleet. The company relocated its place of incorporation from the US to the UK in 2009, creating interesting dynamics because the company is still an SEC registrant with equity trading on the New York Stock Exchange, he said.

TRUE IADC STALWART

There are few people in the industry who don’t know – or at least know of – Mr Moomjian. If you’ve been to IADC conferences or participated in association activities, more likely than not you’ve crossed paths with him. To say that he chaired the Contracts Committee for over a decade and has served on the Executive Committee for three separate terms barely scratches the surface of his contributions. His leadership and industry service were recognized when he was named IADC Contractor of the Year in 1996.

In the true sense of the word, he is an IADC stalwart.

“Although I plan to continue to be active in the industry for several years, I wonder who will be the IADC stalwarts in the year 2040?” Mr Moomjian commented.

“The industry needs to do more to bring along the younger people within the ranks of IADC. We need to support and encourage the next generation of industry leaders by giving them the time and authorization to participate in IADC activities.

“It’s for the future of the industry and the association.”

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