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Ocean Drilling & Exploration Company (ODECO) was a pioneering offshore drilling company formed by Alden J. "Doc" Laborde and John Hayward in May 1953.[1]

Early years[edit]

John Hayward was the builder of the Barnsdall rig, and holder of the patent on submersible drilling barge methodology.

Charles Murphy, Jr. of Murphy Oil Company was looking for an innovative technology that would let his small company compete with the big companies drilling offshore. Laborde's design for a submersible transportable drilling rig was suitable and Murphy committed $500,000 to the deal and assisted Laborde in finding additional investors.

ODECO signed a construction contract with Alexander Shipyard in New Orleans. The name selected for the new submersible drilling unit was Mr.Charlie; the commonly used name used for Charles Murphy's father.[2]

As the rig neared completion ODECO needed a company willing to put Mr. Charlie to work. Laborde was relieved when Shell Oil signed a contract to hire the rig to drill a series of small wells at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

On June 15, 1954, Mr. Charlie was turned over to ODECO by the shipyard in the Industrial Canal, New Orleans. After provisioning and set up, they set sail for the trip to Mr.Charlie's first job. The submergence tests passed with only a few problems. When they reversed the process and raised the barge from bottom, it remained upright and under control.

After successfully drilling the first well for Shell, Mr. Charlie went on to drill almost continuously for around thirty years. With the obvious success of Mr.Charlie rival rigs were built, creating a certain amount of rivalry, particularly when Shell contracted the Mr.Gus. The rivalry ended when Mr. Gus was lost in a storm. ODECO went on to design and build several variations on Mr. Charlie's design.

After noticing the stability of submersible rigs when they were only partially submerged for relocation, Laborde designed and constructed the first purpose-built V-shaped semi-submersible drilling rig, Ocean Driller, delivered in 1963.[3]

After a time Laborde turned his attention onto designing support vessels particularly for the oil industry. Eventually a new company, Tidewater, was formed and eventually became the world's largest offshore vessel operator.

Later years[edit]

ODECO rigs continued to rack up “firsts” in the industry in the 1970s, with Ocean Viking discovering the giant Ekofisk Field for Phillips Petroleum in the North Sea, and Ocean Victory discovering the Piper and Claymore fields, also in the North Sea, for Occidental Petroleum, another oil company.

In 1992, Diamond M Corporation purchased all of the outstanding stock of ODECO Drilling Inc. from 'ODECO Oil and Gas Co.', a subsidiary of Murphy Oil, and changed the combined company name to Diamond M-ODECO Drilling Inc. before becoming Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc. in 1993.

See also[edit]

Ocean Ranger


  1. ^ "Diamond Offshore History". Diamond Offshore. Retrieved 30 December 2009. 
  2. ^ "Rig Museum". International Petroleum Museum and Exposition. Retrieved 30 December 2009. 
  3. ^ The Evolution of Offshore Mobile Drilling Units, Richard J. Howe, Esso Production Research Company, Drilling and Production Practice, API Paper 66-120, 1966