Offshore Energy Timeline:1806-2014

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

April 29, 2014


1806  - Spring pole cable drilling developed in US.
1844  - Fluid circulating rotary well drilling patented in England.
1845  - Circulated fluid used to remove drill cuttings for first time.
1860  - Fluid circulation rotary diamond coring drill developed in France.
1869 – T homas Fitch Rowland  patents  a “submarine drilling apparatus,” a fixed, working platform for drilling offshore to a depth of almost 50 feet. The anchored tower had telescoping legs, similar to modern offshore platforms.
1878  - First bulk oil tanker begins operation in the Caspian Sea.
1891  - First ocean-going tanker launched.
1897  - Wells drilled off piers in Summerland, Calif.
1905 – Oil discovered in the Caddo Pine Island field in Lousiana.
1911  -  Gulf Refining Co. installs platforms to drill for oil in Caddo Lake in Louisiana.
1914 – Pres. Woodrow Wilson opens the Houston Ship Channel for ocean-going vessels.
1921 - Erle P. Halliburton patents a “Method and Means for Cementing Oil Wells,” a design that isolates the various down-hole zones, guards against collapse of the casing and permits control of the well throughout its producing life.
1924  - First platform erected on Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo.
1925 -Production begins on artificial island in the Caspian Sea.
1927  - Concrete pilings pioneered in Lake Maracaibo.
1928  - Patent to Louis Giliasso for submersible barge drilling unit, launching the era of mobile drilling. 
1937  - First offshore oil platform in 14 feet of water one mile off the Louisiana shore (Creole – Superior/Pure).
1938 - First well drilled offshore Texas (Galveston Bay – Standard Oil).
1945 -First offshore U.S. lease sale.
1947 - The Kermac 16 is credited as the first oil rig located “out-of –sight- of-land,” and is located oil 10 miles off the Louisiana coast in 18 feet of water.  Built by Brown & Root Company for Kerr-McGee for only $230,000, the “Kermac 16″ goes onto produce 1.4 million barrels of oil and 307 million cubic feet of natural gas before being shut down in 1984.
1953 - Congress passes the Outer Continental Shelf Lands and the Submerged Lands acts, settling the dispute between states and the federal government over who controls what part of the coast offshore. Passage re-opens offshore leasing programs and reignites activity in the gulf, which was stalled during the three-year dispute. 
1954  - Brazil's Petrobras begins offshore exploration.
1954  - First jackup drilling unit deployed.
1954  - First offshore pipeline laid; First federal Outer Continental Shelf lease sale; and the maiden voyage of the “Mr. Charlie”submersible drilling vessel
1955 - Platform installation depth reaches 100 ft.
1956  - First drill ship launched.
1959 -  The world’s first liquefied natural gas tanker –the Methane Pioneer –arrives at the world’s first LNG terminal at Canvey Island, England. The converted WWII Liberty ship featured 5 7,000-barrel aluminum tanks.
1960 - The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is created by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
1962 - The first  semi-submersible drilling vessel, Blue Water 1; first subsea well completion; and fixed platform depth reaches 200 ft
1964 - Second-generation semisubmersible debuts.
1965 - First fixed platform in North Sea; patent awarded for an “underwater manipulator with suction support device” (an early ROV device).
1967 - Diving depths reach 600 ft.
1967 - The Six Day War in the Middle East closes the Suez Canal.
 1969 - An oil platform six miles off the Santa Barbara, Calif. coast suffers a blowout, creating an 800-square mile oil slick. The incident is credited with triggering the launch of the environmental movement. Separately, Britain discovers major oil and gas fields in the North Sea and The U. S. government nets $900,220,590 in bids for Alaskan oil leases. The sale of oil on 179 tracts of the North Slope totaling 450,858 acres opens the arctic for oil exploration.
1972 - U.S. oil production allegedly peaks.
Oct. 1973 – March 1974 OPEC launches an oil embargo in response to the U.S. support for Israel during the Yom Kippur War. Oil prices quadrupled . The ensuing shortages created an “energy crisis” that fueled more interest in offshore.
1973 The U. S. Congress approves the Alaska oil pipeline.
1975 - Operation of the UK's first North Sea oil pipeline.
1975 Reel pipelay exceeds 1,000 ft water depth.
1977 – Construction completed on the Alaska Pipeline.
1978  - Shell Oil Co.’s Cognac production platform  becomes the first to sit in 1,000 feet of water
•  1979 - Pemex's Ixtoc I exploratory oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico 600 miles south of Texas, spills 40 million gallons.
•  1979 - The supertanker AMOCO Cadiz runs aground in the English Channel spilling nearly 70 million gallons.
1979  - Fixed platform depth exceeds 1,000 ft.
1980 - Kielland semi accommodation unit capsizes (Ekofisk Edda) while the Iraq-Iran war sparks another gas shortage.
1981 - First offshore horizontal well drilled; first Congressional Outer Continental Shelf leasing moratorium
1985-1991  - Offshore bottoms out. Exploration stopped, projects were canceled as crude oil prices dropped steadily. The industry comes to a standstill.
1986 – April 1, Oil Price hits Modern Low, falling below $10 a barrel, thanks to over production by OPEC, and a worldwide recession.
1988   - A series of explosions and fires destroys  the Piper Alpha North Sea Oil drilling platform, killing 167 oil workers; Fixed production platform installed in 1,353 ft water depth as drilling water depth reaches 7,512 ft.; and Bullwinkle, the world's tallest pile-supported fixed steel platform, is installed.
1989 - The oil tanker Exxon Valdez spills more than 11 million gallons of crude oil in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The cleanup cost the company $2.5 billion.

1990 - Oil Pollution Act of 1990 requires that all tankers entering U.S. waters be double-hulled by 2015; Iraq invades and seizes Kuwait, creating a major international crisis. DOE announces plans to increase oil production and decrease consumption to counter Iraqi-Kuwaiti oil losses.
1991 - Largest Oil Spill in history - 500 million gallons – occurs as retreating Iraqi troops vandalize oil facilities, pouring oil into the Persian Gulf. Separately, Brazilian well is sited in 2,360 ft deep water; and supercomputer workstation processes 3D seismic model.
1993  - Petrobras layaway subsea tree placed in 6,000 ft of water.
1994  - First production comes in from Shell’s Auger tension-leg platform in 2,860 feet of water
1995  - Deepwater Royalty Relief Act; Conoco installs first concrete-hull tension leg platform in the  North Sea; and Pres. Clinton blocks a $1 billion contract between Conoco and Iran to develop a huge offshore oil tract in the Persian Gulf.

1996  - First spar production facility installed in the Gulf of Mexico in the Neptune field.

1998 - The Department of Energy and Occidental Petroleum Corp. complete the sale of the U. S. government’s interest in the Elk Hills Naval Petroleum Reserve, the largest divestiture of federal property in the history.
1999  - Transocean introduces a dual-activity drillship; Largest Gulf of Mexico discovery (BP’s Thunder Horse at 1 Bbbl in 6,000 ft of water ); and deep water oil production in the Gulf exceeds shallow-water oil production for the first time.
2000 -A consortium of Western oil companies finds a large oil reserve in the northern Caspian Sea off the coast of Kazakhstan. The 480-sq. mile Kashagan field was estimated at 8 to 50 billion barrels of oil. Separately, the Hoover-Diana, a 63,000-ton deep-draft caisson vessel, goes into operation in the Gulf of Mexico
2001 -Senate Republicans introduce an energy bill that will provide billions of dollars of tax incentives and spending to boost domestic energy production and allow oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  Separately,  Pres.  Bush orders an increase in the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve up to its 700 million barrel capacity using principally royalty oil from federal offshore leases, and a floating rig drills in 9,687 ft water depth.
2004 - Na Kika will become the deepest Gulf of Mexico production at 7,600 ft water depth.
2006  - Successful test at the Jack 2 field, in 7,000 feet of water and more than 20,000 feet
below the seafloor, establishing the viability of the deepwater Lower Tertiary play; Drilling hits 6,157 ft of water off Brazilian coast.

2005 - Gujarat Petroleum Corp. announces India's biggest gas discovery  - 20 trillion cubic feet, worth $50 billion - off the southeast coast.
2007 – Oil reaches $100 per barrel.

2008 - The record peak of $145 per barrel in July, falling back to $32 per barrel by year end.
2008 – A Nigerian militant group attacks Shell's main offshore oilfield and briefly kidnaps a U.S. oil worker. The attack shut down a tenth of the country's oil output in a rare attack on a deepwater facility.
2009 -January, the Tamar gas field was discovered off the coast of Israel. It was the largest gas find of the year.
2010  - Arrival of BP’s Deepwater Horizon at Macondo well in January; well blowout occurs on April 10, killing 11 workers, and triggering a spill that takes three months to cap. The largest environmental disaster ever in the U.S. and the Gulf  of Mexico, the BP disaster triggers a three-month moratorium on drilling anywhere in U.S. waters and gives rise to a new era of safety regulation and oversight.. In reaction, the U,S, orders oil and gas firms to permanently plug nearly 3,500 unused wells and dismantle hundreds of idle platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, in a bid to shore up industry safety..
2010 – Perdido, an oil and gas spar production facility, is launched. It is world’s deepest oil development, and the deepest drilling and production platform, and will produce from the deepest subsea well in the
2011 - Norway's Statoil says the North Sea Aldous and Avaldsnes oil discoveries together contain between 500 million and 1.2 billion barrels of oil, significantly more than previously thought;  Russia's Kolskaya oil drilling platform capsizes and sinks.
2012- February 20, The U.S. and Mexico agreed to work together when drilling for oil and gas below their maritime border in the Gulf of Mexico.
2012- February 29, the Philippines said it would push ahead with plans to expand oil and gas exploration in waters also claimed by China, as it brushed off a fresh Chinese warning.
2012- April 17, UK authorities gave approval to drill for shale gas onshore, lifting a temporary ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Energy experts believed Britain may have enough offshore shale gas to catapult it into the top ranks of global producers.

(As published in the April 2014 edition of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News -

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