change occurred so swiftly that “Goins and O’Brien” became the engineering idols of all young engineers who worked in drilling assignments. They earned the right to be labeled the best drilling engineers of all time.
At that time, Gulf Oil Company was the biggest offshore operator in the Gulf of Mexico. Gulf Oil drilled the most wells and had the most production. After the oil downturn that began in 1957, the operations people in the Gulf of Mexico were visited by a vice president of finance out of Gulf Oil’s headquarters. He reportedly explained in significant detail that the company’s offshore oil and gas exploration and production operations were not economical and that “you people” would have the “first chance to bring the costs down.” They were challenged to cut drilling costs in half. Gulf Oil Company started a maximum effort to solve the problem.
At that time, drilling operations were saddled by a maze of customs and concerns that had been followed for years. The engineers normally spent so little time on the rigs that no one had a good idea of what actually went on there. The Gulf engineers moved desks onto their rig floors and manned them 24 hours a day. Goins and O’Brien were heavily involved. They recorded all of the things that were being done and how much time was involved.
The norm in the Gulf Coast at the time was for it to take 30 days to drill to a depth of 10,000 feet. Goins and O’Brien’s record keeping soon led to an action program that was named the “Massive Elimination Program.” They began streamlining operations. They left no sacred cows. They replaced the heavy and viscous mud with the industry’s first seawater mud. They made major improvements in drilling hydraulics and drilling operations. They hit their ultimate performance with a well that reached 10,000 feet in just three days! That was a 90 percent improvement, which I believe to be the best performance ever. They drilled only one well in the record three days, but they changed the 30-day norm for the entire industry to reach 10,000 feet in just 10 days.