Only 65 years ago, the modern offshore oil industry began in the Gulf of Mexico. The anniversary of the first oil well completed out of sight of land comes up this October. Come hell or high water, Kerr-McGee Oil, as operator for partners Phillips Petroleum and Stanolind Oil & Gas, was going to do something that no other company had done. The Kermac No. 16 well was spudded on Sept. 10, 1947. The hell and high water came a week later when a hurricane with 140-mph winds caused the evacuation of the rig. There was minimal damage to the platform and drilling quickly started again. The well was drilled on Ship Shoal Block 32 from a drilling tender, which was a converted U.S. Navy YF barge. Brown & Root built a free-standing platform in 18 feet of water about 10 miles offshore to hold the rig. The well that opened up offshore exploration and production began production on Nov. 14 with a whopping 40 barrels per hour (960 b/d). What brought up the history lesson was an announcement from ASME that it was naming the first, purpose-built, offshore drilling rig as a historic mechanical engineering landmark. ASME will hold the ceremony on March 17 at the Mr. Charlie submersible rig in Morgan City, where it is now a museum and training facility. "Mr. Charlie's success initiated the modern offshore oil and gas industry," said ASME in a bronze plaque to be presented to the International Petroleum Museum and Exposition. Mr. Charlie was built in 1952-53 and drilled hundreds of wells in the Gulf of Mexico, starting in 1954 and continuing through 1986. The rig was towed from location to location where its pontoons were flooded so the vessel could sit on the seabed for drilling. Its maximum water depth was about 40 ft, a far cry from today’s rig that can drill in 10,000 to 12,000 ft of water. Another anniversary was noted this year – the semisubmersible Ocean Ranger sank 30 years ago on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, taking the lives of all 84 men onboard. The rig went down on Feb. 15, 1982, in a storm with 100-ft waves and 96-mph winds. The inquiry following the rig accident pointed to faulty design, poor training and inadequate equipment as contributing factors. The accident led to the redesign of the ballast system for semisubmersibles as was noted in Hart Energy E&P Online’s exclusive, “BSEE: Tackling BOP Maintenance, Inspection,” on March 9. The other history lesson is about doing business in India. The Dabhol LNG terminal is scheduled to be commissioned during the first week in April with the first cargo of LNG, according to Gail India. That’s one of those “I’ll believe it when I see it” kinds of events. Enron began the project in the late 1990s. The government approved the plan in 1997 and construction started after that. The terminal was part of a power generation project – the Dabhol Power Project. However, the Maharashtra State Electricity Board reneged on its agreement to buy power from the plant and the federal government did not honor the contract either. In 2001, construction was halted on the LNG terminal with about 98% of the work completed. Following Enron’s bankruptcy, the terminal was sold to Ratnagiri Gas and Power Ltd. in 2005. That’s not exactly how the state government or the Indian press describes what happened. If the terminal is commissioned in April, that will be 11 years from the time it was nearly completed. The companies involved said the terminal would begin operations in 2007, 2010, 2011 and now 2012. You’ll pardon me if I have a wait-and-see attitude. Contact the author, Scott Weeden, at