Year Inducted: 2013
Mark A. Childers
Mark A. Childers is an engineer, manager, inventor and pioneer in the development of offshore drilling and production. Born in Columbus, Ohio, he was raised in Arlington, Virginia. After high school graduation, he went to Virginia Polytechnic Institute (now Va. Tech). A member of the Corps of Cadets for two years, he co-oped through school, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in 1964. Via a National Science Foundation (NSF) scholarship, he then earned a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering in 1965. He joined Humble Oil & Refining Co. (now ExxonMobil) as an engineer in the offshore oil and gas business in New Orleans, Louisiana upon graduation from college. At that time the offshore oil and gas industry was only 12 years old, but developing rapidly. Humble provided an outstanding training ground via assignments at the division level, headquarters and at its research center (Esso Production Research Co.). An abundance of field work and classroom instruction laid the groundwork for his engineering skills, allowing him to develop wellbore cementing techniques, innovative workover units and floating drilling technology. This latter group included deepwater spread mooring systems, floating drilling well techniques and hardware, marine riser systems, and Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) designs and operations. He holds 12 domestic and international patents covering mooring hardware, tubular handling concepts, cementing of oil wells, submersible rig stationkeeping via suction piles, buoyant towers and subsea BOP control.
In 1972, Mark joined Ocean Drilling and Exploration Co. (ODECO), then one of the largest worldwide offshore drilling contractors, as a Staff Engineer, subsequently moving up to Operations Engineering Manager then Vice President/Chief Engineer in 1977. Five years later he was named General Manager/Vice President of Domestic Operations that comprised 29 operating rigs. In 1992, ODECO was sold to Loew’s Corporation and Diamond Offshore Drilling was formed. Initially he served as Senior Vice President of Operations and then as Senior Vice President of Technical Services. After short stays at DI Industries (Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in 1993) and, in 1994, Oceaneering Production Systems, he joined Atwood Oceanics in 1999 as General Manager of Technical Services, where he worked until his semi-retirement in 2007. He then formed a very active consulting business requiring him to travel the world well into his late 70s.
Mark was responsible for many technical innovations and operating techniques affecting safety and drilling efficiency that led to Gulf of Mexico water depth and drilling depth records. He was involved in the design, construction and operation of all types of offshore drilling rigs, and, as a result, he became widely known for his skills and achievements. Mark was most proud of developing and training ODECO’s young drilling engineers, many of whom became leaders in the industry.
He has been a member, founder and/or chairman of numerous industry committees, Joint Industry Projects (JIPs) and organizations that helped develop rules and standards in the offshore drilling industry. He lectured and made dozens of presentations involving his field of expertise, often serving as the keynote speaker. Mark authored over two dozen technical papers, articles and book chapters on a wide range of topics, but mostly centered on MODUs. In 2015, he was one of the primary authors of the chapter on Floating Drilling Equipment and Operations for the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) Drilling Manual, which is considered the drilling bible for the industry. He is also the primary author of PetroWiki’s description of MODUs.
Mark, a Registered Professional Engineer in Texas and Louisiana, received the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Cedrick K. Ferguson Medal in 1969, was a Distinguished Lecturer for the SPE in 1981, and in 2006 was named the IADC’s “Contractor of the Year,” one of its highest awards. In 2013, he was named to the Hall of Fame of the Offshore Energy Center (OEC). Besides the Hall of Fame award, he also was awarded five Pioneer Technology awards, tying for the most ever bestowed on an individual. Over his career he was (and in some cases still is) a member of the SPE (Distinguished and Legion Member), American Petroleum Institute, American Civil Engineering Society, Offshore Technology Conferences committees, Offshore Operators Committee, American Association of Drilling Engineers, IADC (Director), American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.