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Offshore Pioneers: Brown & Root and the History of Offshore Oil and Gas Paperback – 26 May 2011

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4.1 out of 5 stars 7 reviews from

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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) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.1 out of 5 stars 7 reviews
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Memories. 14 Jan. 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The reason I bought this book is because my husband used to work for Brown & root in the North Sea and the Persian Gulf. He was superintendent on the derrick barge Hercules.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but not really a history 4 July 2010
By brazos49 - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I discovered that this book existed when the Houston Chronicle mentioned its coverage of the Ixtoc blowout/oil spill in the Bay of Campeche relative to the BP blowout off Louisiana. And, I was glad to find it and read it. I actually worked in the Brown & Root marine division as a structural engineer for about a year in the early 1970's. So, I knew some of the key players in this book and am familiar with some of the specific history covered. Also, a couple of my college classmates worked for B&R in the international offshore pipeline construction area.

I have to admit that reading this book made me wonder if I made the right decision to leave B&R to work for another engineering consulting company. I could see that staying with B&R Marine Division meant that I'd have to move around the world to move up the organization chart and I wasn't sure I wanted to do that. But, reading this book reinforced what I surely knew then - that what B&R was doing in offshore structures was about the most interesting and challenging possible work for a structural engineer. As this book clearly describes, much of what B&R was doing in this area was cutting edge and unique. I remember the situation being such that for a lot of offshore work, only B&R or McDermott were candidates because they were the only companies in the world with the engineering knowhow to do it. And, I was offered a job at McDermott and I considered them to be a half step behind B&R. Engineers such as Jay Weidler, Al Crossman, Larry Starr, Max Koehler and Stan Hruska were truly exceptional talents and their expertise shaped this history of extraordinary accomplishments.

But, as far as this book goes in terms of being a history of the key events, there is a glaring omission. Because of their dominant market positions, Brown & Root and McDermott were charged with bid rigging/price fixing relative to the offshore platform business. I vaguely remember the project engineer I worked under telling me once that he thought B&R and McDermott kind of "took turns" winning certain bids because both companies were so busy it didn't make sense to go all out to compete hard to win each bid. That sounds reasonable unless you realize, as I didn't at the time, that it's illegal as hell. So, B&R and several executives were indicted in 1978, the company paid a big fine and, most shockingly, the president of B&R, Foster Parker, committed suicide. A pretty big deal by almost any standard and not the kind of thing that could be omitted in any "history" book. I guess this book was commissioned by B&R or some people from B&R, so overlooking how this amazing technological edge led to something so sinister and embarassing is understandable as long as you accept that the authors are more PR flacks than real historians.

So, I enjoyed the book for the reasons I listed, but I hated the fact that some very interesting aspects of the whole history were strategically omitted. If you're interested in a "house organ" style history of the development of this technology, you'll almost surely enjoy this book. If you're looking for the whole story, this won't be it.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent history of the offshore oil&gas industry's beginnings 3 July 2001
By D. Smith - Published on
Format: Hardcover
For anyone interested in the beginnings of the marine oil and gas industry, Offshore Pioneers provides a good general history. Since this book was commissioned by Brown & Root, you should expect a certain level of bias. Brown & Root's achievements are obviously highlighted while their defeats are understandably downplayed. This history includes the significant roles of other participants, though mainly in relation to Brown & Root, either as competitor, customer or co-venturer. Beginning with the first baby-steps in offshore exploration (long platforms connecting shore to site), this history lesson progresses to the innovation and ingenuity necessary to explore and exploit hydrocarbons from new environments, such as Lake Maracaibo, the Bay of Campeche, California (short lived program though it was) and the North Sea. As an offshore service analyst, I constantly seek out information on the industry, whether current or historical. Brown and Root did play a large role in the development of the offshore oil and gas industry, from constructing the first platforms out into the Gulf of Mexico, engineering massive North Sea structures, laying pipe in several environments, building construction barges and performing project management. My father had worked for the company for 25 years, and I had already developed an appreciation for their can-do attitude and willingness to work in any environment. If you're looking for a history of the industry's humble beginnings, this is a great book to read. However, Brown & Root ceased being a major force in the offshore energy industry during the 1980's, so don't expect to find any recent history in this work.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Giants of Offshore Oil Platforms 2 Jun. 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is the history of Brown & Root's Marine Division. Drawing heavily from their knowledge of building warships during World War II, Brown & Root installed the first oil platform out of sight from land off the coast of Louisiana for the Kerr Magee Oil Company in 1947. This was Brown & Root's entry into the offshore construction market. They kept building and installing platforms in increasing depths of the Gulf of Mexico as well as venturing into offshore spots around the world, such as off the coast of Alaska and the most famous offshore location of the North Sea. The book details many of these large well known projects as well as Project Mohole, the cancelled program to drill into the Earth's core from an ocean drill ship. Brown & Root was a participant in this project. An interesting book for anyone who has worked in the offshore oil industry or has an interest in it.
4.0 out of 5 stars BROWN & ROOT BECAME PART OF HALIBURTON 21 Jun. 2014
By brianhola Gran Canaria - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I WORKED AT SUFFOLK ROAD Gt Yarmouth Depot of B & Root Developing the Bitumen Coating of 48'pipelines
i can answer other QUESTIONS IF REQUIRED
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