2013 Industry Pioneers

Bruce J. Watkins

Bruce Watkins graduated from Cal Tech with a straight “A” average in 1954 and went to work for Shell Oil Co. in 1955 working on the secretive Manipulator Operated (MOBOT), which was the forerunner of ROV development. Besides working on the MOBOT he also worked on “diverless” wellheads and Christmas trees that would work with the MOBOT. He was the project engineer for one of the first floating offshore wells drilled in the Alaskan Cook Inlet but after 4 years with Shell developing offshore technology during its infancy, he joined Regan Forge and Engineering as Chief Engineer in San Pedro, California. Following his love of offshore drilling he helped lead the company to invent dozens of ideas and products. During his career, Bruce developed over 60 US patents starting from his Shell days through to his death in 2000. Notable designs and developments with many “firsts” included subsea wellhead systems, subsea Christmas trees, hydraulic wellhead connectors, remote guideline reestablishing systems, concentric tubing hangers, automatic and emergency marine riser release systems, jackup and floating diverter systems, numerous marine riser designs, and metal to metal subsea sealing technology, along with a host of other design innovations that have become standards in the offshore drilling and completion industry. Nicknamed the “Wizard” for his creative mind and vast knowledge, he eventually became President of Regan Offshore and then with new ownership under the name of Hughes Offshore, he remained President until 1985 when the company was merged. Bruce worked as a consultant until he joined Dril-Quip in 1988. He headed up the company’s New Product Development section where he did what he loved the most, designing equipment. Bruce implemented improvements on his own existing products, continued generating a steady stream of patents and invented new products for the company. Bruce was Dril-Quip’s Director of Product Development for 12 years.

With one of the sharpest minds in the industry along with his quick witted personality, Bruce was involved in the offshore oil and gas industry from its infancy.  He was a pioneer in the development of drilling and production systems used offshore and is known as the “father” of many equipment standards used by the industry today.