As Sir Isaac Newton said “WE STAND ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS.”
It is time to acknowledge the many contributions of the oilfield divers. Since the very first over water oil well was drilled, those men and women significantly improved the oil and gas industry’s ability to exploit these natural resources.
The evolution of the oil and gas industry and its movement offshore has been one of the fundamental forces shaping our culture, geography, society and economy during the twentieth century. In the late 1920s and into the 30s, the lakes, marshes and bayous of southern Louisiana began to rival the famous Spindletop salt dome in neighboring Texas in the production of fossil fuels. A consortium of companies led by Kerr-McGee and Phillips Petroleum completed the first out-of-sight-of-land well in 1947 off Morgan City, marking a new phase in the evolution of the world’s oil and gas industry.
Our monument will be a life size bronze statue of an early oilfield diver to commemorate all those who have worked underwater to build the international oil and gas industry.
Oilfield Diver History
With over 100 countries producing oil and gas, an extremely hazardous area of offshore work was diving, which, by the late 1950s, had become an essential function to offshore petroleum operations. Divers assisted in constructing, installing, repairing, and salvaging offshore platforms and pipelines. The oilfield diver has been involved every step of the way. It’s important to recognize those giants now and for the future.
In the late 1800s the first overwater, oil wells were being drilled in the ocean from piers extending off the beach at Summerland, California. Since then, men and women have been getting into the water to support the production of oil and gas around the world.
In 1911, Gulf Oil drilled the world’s first oil well in the inland waters of Lake Caddo, Louisiana. None of these operations would have been possible without the guy that jumped over the side to retrieve the lost tool, or to tighten the flange.
In the mid-1940s those men’s efforts developed into a profession. And we saw, for the first time, professional oilfield divers. Those divers and the companies they started, made incredible discoveries, breakthroughs and a steady improvement to the profession, including safety processes and procedures. Those efforts have been incorporated by many industries, from robotics to the medical field and space exploration, just to name a few. Who didn’t hear the Shuttle astronauts working on the Hubble telescope say “where’s those divers when we need them?” as they struggled with installing the new mirrors.
Our vision is of a bronze life size diver dressed in an early DESCO helmet, that shows the transition from heavy gear to light gear. A burning torch, jet nozzle and a hammer wrench with umbilical hoses on the deck.
Our granite monument will include the early history of and some of the improvements in safety, equipment, and procedures made by those hard-working oilfield divers.
The monument will also, include a QR code linked to our web-page https://www.oilfielddiversmonument.org on the International Petroleum Museum & Exposition web site https://rigmuseum.com.
The website presents more of the history of oilfield diving, early photographs, and links to diving schools and sponsor websites.
The Oilfield Divers Monument is a project of the International Petroleum Museum & Exposition in Morgan City, Louisiana. As such, it is a nonprofit foundation that can accept tax deductible donations.
We are excited to start this monumental project. We have selected Burleson Bronze out of Austin, Texas as the designer and sculptor. Their work can be seen on their website, www.burlesonbronze.com. They were selected because of their previous excellent work on the Morgan City Veterans Memorial.
Morgan City is investing by providing the location in their memorial park. They are also installing the base for the statue to be mounted to. The statue base will be 4 ft X 3ft with a 4” stab over.
How You Can Help
Together we can build this monument for oilfield divers. It will inspire our young to follow their dreams. We need support from everyone to recognize those GIANTS of the early oilfield diving community.
Please mail your tax-deductible donations to:
Oilfield Divers Monument
PO Box 1988
Morgan City, LA 70381
If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Jack Vilas III