Year Inducted: 2009
Jim Rike was a pioneer inventor and developer of drilling and completion technology. He is best known as the “Father” of coiled tubing technology, which initially involved winding a long continuous length of small diameter steel pipe on a large spool (as fishing line on a reel) and injecting the length into a well that may or may not be under well pressure. The end of the injected tubing was fitted with various tools to do work in the well. He was awarded several of the initial patents for coiled tubing, which has grown into a major part of oil and gas completion technology. He played a key role in development of many other completion and workover techniques and trained thousands of professionals throughout the world via his seminars and short courses. He authored many articles and technical papers (over 16), obtained 14 patents, served or chaired many technical committees and sessions, gave numerous speeches and lectures in his field of expertise, received numerous awards and was an international ambassador of upstream oil and gas technology.
He graduated from high school at the age of 14, attended Kilgore (Texas) Junior College with financial help from a mentor and served in World War II in aviation electronics. After the war, he completed his BSEE degree at Texas A&M; and then went to work for Humble Oil & Refining Company (now ExxonMobil). After retiring from Humble in 1970, Jim became a consultant, a career he pursued until his death at age 87. As late as his 80’s, he was holding seminars and short courses, and serving as an expert witness. He never retired and was scheduled to fly to Australia at the time of his death, even though he had one poor eye and could barely walk.
He championed coiled tubing technology with the writing if its first patent memorandum in 1959, and proving its feasibility, led it to an accepted workover, drilling and flowline/pipeline technology that has had a major impact on drilling and production both onshore and offshore. Coiled tubing, first used in the mid1960s, had quality problems accentuated by repeated failures via bending of the tube and its connections. However, through Rike’s perseverance these issues were solved and the concept developed into a dependable and economic technology that the industry now depends upon daily. Besides technical issues, he demonstrated the economics of using coiled tubing to increase oil and gas reserves and production. Coiled tubing technology provides a means to enter pressured or non-pressured wells and accomplish difficult completion and/or workover tasks in horizontal, deepwater or multilateral wells. Thanks to Rike’s dogged determination and guiding hand, early development issues were overcome, and coiled tubing has developed into a widely used workover system, a highly versatile completion tool, a useful drilling tool for special applications, and an economical problem solver. In the early days of offshore drilling, Rike played a key role in development of new completion concepts, directional perforating, tubingless completions, sand control, well control, concentric tubing workover methodology, and advanced completion practices. Being an “idea man” he has done advanced work and developed improvements in areas such as well cementing, perforating, wireline operations, workover economics, and operating and engineering practices.
With his wealth of engineering and operations background, Rike developed a long list of short courses (40 at last count) aimed at all levels of engineering, management, operations and non-technical participants. His trademark was to take technically complex subjects and make them understandable to the novice or layman, and at the same time informative to the knowledgeable practitioner. He developed techniques that helped make “one-instructor” seminars and “short course” training formats effective. These training formats save enormous amounts of time and money in the transfer of technology and are used throughout industry today. Rike has consulted with or trained at most multi-national and national oil and gas companies, government agencies, and service companies.
Jim Rike, through his determination, stick-with-it mentality, creative mind, technical expertise, long-hours work ethic, and desire to do the best job possible, was an important oil and gas industry pioneer.