‘Doc’ Laborde, offshore drilling pioneer, innovator, dies at 98
Alden James “Doc” Laborde, an offshore drilling pioneer who transformed the drilling industry with innovations that made it possible to drill farther and in deeper waters, died on 6 April at his home in New Orleans. He was 98.
Mr Laborde brought a Louisianian’s perspective to the challenges of coastal drilling. He started in the oilfield as a roustabout and eventually helped create three NYSE-traded companies.
Mr Laborde was born in Vinton, La., and grew up in Marksville. He attended Louisiana State University for two years and, in 1934, entered the US Naval Academy, where he was commissioned as an Ensign after graduating in 1938. After being released from military service early because of vision problems, he returned to Louisiana and opened a business in Lafayette. He then returned to the Navy after the US entered World War II.
In 1941, he trained at the Sub Chaser Training Center in Miami and was given command of a vessel. In 1943, he returned to the Miami center to train reserve officers and later served aboard two other combat vessels before leaving the service with the rank of commander.
After the war, Mr Laborde returned to Louisiana and entered the oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico. He began as a roustabout, and it was there that he gained a reputation as a problem-solver and picked up his nickname, “Doc.”
While Mr Laborde was working for Kerr-McGee Oil Industries in Morgan City, La., as a marine superintendent, he came up with the idea for a movable, submersible drilling rig. During this time, companies were building piling platforms for each individual rig, a time-consuming and expensive process, especially if the well turned out to be a dry hole.
Mr Laborde left Kerr-McGee after the company refused to build his rig. With Murphy Oil Co and John Hayward, the builder of the Barnsdall rig and holder of the patent on the submersible barge methodology, Mr Laborde began Ocean Drilling and Exploration Co (ODECO). The first rig ODECO built was nicknamed “Mr Charlie,” after Charles Murphy Sr, the founder of Murphy Oil. The $2.5-million rig drilled in water as deep as 40 ft.
After its first successes, Mr Charlie drilled for more than 30 years at hundreds of sites. It has been recognized as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and is on permanent display at the International Petroleum Museum in Morgan City.
Later, he turned his attention to designing oil-industry support vessels. Mr Laborde and his partners, including two of his brothers, formed Tidewater Inc.
In 1963, Mr Laborde also was involved in the development of the Ocean Driller, a triangular semisubmersible that drilled farther offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.
In 1977, Mr Laborde retired at age 61, but in the mid-1980s he and his partners took over a Houma firm that had gone bankrupt in the oil bust and formed Gulf Island Fabrication. Mr Laborde served as CEO from 1986 to 1990 and Chairman of the Board from 1987 to 2001. He remained on the board until 2012.
He also served on the boards of numerous public and private educational and philanthropic institutions. In 1985, Fortune magazine inducted Mr Laborde into the National Business Hall of Fame.
“Alden James ‘Doc’ Laborde was a pioneer with great vision and passion for the oil and gas industry,” Stephen A. Colville, IADC President & CEO, said. “His involvement in the development of the first semisubersible rig in the offshore drilling industry had a tremendous impact. He will be missed, and he will always be remembered for his contribution to the industry.”
Superior names Remson as VP of Risk Management
Superior Energy Services has named Paul Remson as VP of Risk Management. His responsibilities include the placement, analysis and management of the company’s comprehensive property, casualty, marine and specialty insurance programs. He has more than 26 years of experience in risk management and corporate claims.
Trowell succeeds Rabun as Ensco CEO and President
Ensco has named Carl Trowell as CEO and President, as well as a member of the company’s board of directors. He succeeds Dan Rabun, who is retiring after eight years as CEO. Mr Rabun’s retirement was announced in November 2013. Mr Rabun served during 2012 as IADC Chairman and in 2011 as Vice Chairman.
Mr Trowell joins Ensco following a career with Schlumberger. His experience includes positions as President – Integrated Project Management (IPM), President – Schlumberger Production Management (SPM) and President – Schlumberger WesternGeco.
Mr Trowell began his career as a petroleum engineer with Shell,where he held a variety of international management positions. His responsibilities ranged from operations and technology to marketing and business development. In particular, Mr Trowell has a background in development and deployment of new technologies and has been a member of industry advisory boards.
Mr Trowell holds a PhD in earth sciences from the University of Cambridge, a BSc degree in geology from Imperial College London and an MBA from The Open University.
Caterpillar dual-fuel kit to power Citadel newbuilds
Caterpillar Oil & Gas has been selected to provide Citadel Drilling with the Cat 3512C land electric-drive drilling modules with dynamic gas blending (DGB) for Citadel’s new fleet of AC triple rigs, which is estimated to number from 12 to 14 over the next five to six years.
Three Cat 3512C modules, each with rated power of 1045 eKW (1476 bhp) at 1,200 rpm, will be used to power each land drilling rig. The first three Cat DGB units have been delivered and tested and are slated to be field-operational by the end of June on Citadel’s first rig.
The DGB kit has the ability to automatically adjust to changes in incoming fuel quality and pressure, allowing engines to run on a variety of fuels, from associated gas to vaporized LNG. It can also maintain diesel performance levels with up to 70% replacement of diesel with gas and will accept up to 55% inerts.
TESCO acquires Tech Field Services assets
TESCO has acquired the assets of Tech Field Services. TESCO will incorporate the business into its US after-market sales and service operations to enhance its ability to service and recertify top drive units and other automated pipe-handling equipment.
NOV Elmar plans new support base in Canada
National Oilwell Varco (NOV) Elmar plans to open a pressure-control equipment support base in the Edmonton area of Alberta, Canada. The 10,000-sq-ft facility will offer service and recertification of Elmar and Bowen pressure-control equipment, as well as the supply of spare parts and technical assistance.
In addition, the new facility will support the company’s existing operations in Calgary. That includes the products facility for DynaWinch, an NOV Elmar product line focusing on wireline truck manufacturing.
Tenaris opens R&D Center in Rio de Janeiro
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The center will primarily focus on the development and qualification of TenarisHydril premium connections and the TenarisHydril BlueDock weld-on connector, welding technologies, differentiated coatings and studies in fracture mechanics and finite elements.
Lee C. Moore secures 10 new orders for HMR SlotBox
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For the first two rigs delivered into the US shale market, site-to-site rig move times have already been improved by up to three days, according to the company.
Enventure introduces ESeal casing patch technology
Enventure has launched the ESeal Patch, a casing patch technology that utilizes a permanent casing patch solution that can reliably restore well integrity.
The ESeal expandable casing patch is a steel liner that seals short sections of damaged casing and perforations. The technology uses elastomer seals deployed on the top and bottom. Once it expands, the elastomer seals anchor the system to the base pipe. The design provides a fast and permanent seal while reinforcing short casing sections to restore well integrity and prolong the life of the well.
Schramm launches Telemast T250XD rig for shale drilling
Schramm Inc has introduced the Schramm Telemast T250XD trailer-mounted drilling rig designed for shale drilling operations.
The Telemast T250XD is designed for deeper drilling applications and includes increased top drive travel, added BOP clearance and an operator’s control room, as well as the ability to interface with remote operating centers around the world. The T250XD provides 250,000-lb hookload using the patented Telemast technology.