GODDET AND MARATIER MAKERS OF FOREX - FRANCE’S MODERN DRILLING ADVENTURE

In 1741, more than two centuries before Colonel Drake found oil in Titusville, a Swiss gentleman, Pierre Ancillon de La Sablonniere, established the first oil company by shares in Pechelbronn, France. However, with a limited production, France’s oil activity remained confidential. Before WWII, the country had no experience of modern drilling and oil production was nonexistent. French engineers had however taken part in the exploitation of petroleum deposits in Iraq and Romania. They brought back to France an unknown know-how.
When WWII broke out, Raymond Goddet, a prominent French engineer, returned from Romania and bought a German drilling rig. He skillfully upgraded the old Wirth rig and paired it with a boiler. Goddet won its first contract to drill at Saint Marcet at the foot of the Pyrenees mountain.
The birth of Forex, France’s first company exclusively dedicated to drilling, was celebrated on August 2, 1942. Raymond Goddet had called on an exceptional engineer, Amedee Maratier, previously deputy director of Step Romana, stationed in Bucharest. He appointed him as technical director of the company. With only three men having acquired a solid experience of drilling in Iraq, Joseph Lebail and the Pernoud brothers, Goddet and Maratier embarked on an incredible adventure which several decades later led them to have a globally recognized influence.
The young drilling company prospered at Saint Marcet. Amedee Maratier called on young people from the humble families of the region and introduced them to a difficult and yet unknown profession. Decades later one could say "They came to get you from your farm and made you a cosmonaut." Some of them, such as Marcel Fonade, endowed with remarkable intelligence and an extraordinary capacity for work, would become exceptional leaders.
Forex acquired a second rig and moved its offices 34 rue de la Plaine, in Billere, near Pau, in 1949. The company deployed a new Ideco H40 drilling rig to Soultz-sous-Forêts in the Pechelbronn area in 1950, and at the same period started seismic drilling in the Parisian Basin.
In 1952, Amedee Maratier founded Norafor to support North Africa’s emerging market. With a Failing 500, core drilling was started in the Sahara desert near In Salah.
In 1953, a contract was signed with Esso Standard to drill near the Parentis lake in southwestern France. Using a new Ideco 1050 drilling rig, France’s largest oilfield was discovered on March 25, 1954. In 1959 Forex entered the South Sahara. In 1956 oil was found at Pointe Clairette in Gabon and quickly three Ideco rigs, one H30, two H40 and one Super 7/11 were shipped to the country.
Forex set up in Port-Harcourt, Nigeria in 1964, and soon drilled the Obagi discovery well in the Niger Delta. By the end of the 1980's Forex was running up to 17 rigs drilling there.
From 1964 Forex went offshore and soon became Forex-Neptune. The construction of three offshore units started in 1964. It was a tough start with the DeLong-inspired Roger Buttin, sinking offshore Cameroon after a few days of operation, in September 1966. The two jackups Neptune 1 and Neptune Gascogne had more success. On January 1st, 1971, Schumberger acquired 100% of Forex’s shares. The development of offshore drilling business intensified.
In the 1970s, Forex entered the North Sea with Unifor 1, a desert rig installed on a jacket offshore Great Yarmouth. For the first time the company was exposed to international customers, Shell and then Amoco. Led by high caliber supervisors, Maurice Jalet, Fred Bergner and Robert Pernoud the operation was a success.
By the end of 1984, Schlumberger surprised and shook up the global drilling business with the acquisition of the US offshore giant, Sedco. The clash of cultures between the two companies was never easy to manage but the new company was going to suffer more from the different oil shocks.
In January 2000 the New York Times was reporting: “Schlumberger Ltd., a leading oil services company, said yesterday that the spinoff of its Sedco Forex Offshore unit and its merger with Transocean Offshore Inc. had been completed in a $3.61 billion transaction that creates the world's largest offshore drilling company.”
Schlumberger kept alive for some years, a land drilling activity based in Dubai, but the spin off marked the end of the adventure of the old French drilling company that started from scratch during the difficult years of WWII.
Like prestigious drilling companies which have disappeared and marked history, Santa Fe, Rowan, Sedco…, there is not much left of Forex today excepted the incredible memories that can still be told by its former employees. Most of them are gone.
(Source: Forex archive/ Amedee Maratier web page – Image: Mano 1 well near Parentis and Amedee Maratier/ La Memoire de Bordeaux)

SWEDEN – ABB AND VOLVO TO ELECTRIFY GOTHENBURG’S STREETS

January 22, 2020

Starting in 2020, 157 new Volvo electric buses will start trafficking the streets of Gothenburg, Mölndal and Partille, powered by charging infrastructure...

Read More+
POLARCUS COMMENCES CYGNUS PHASE 3 SURVEY OFFSHORE AUSTRALIA

January 22, 2020

Polarcus announced the commencement of acquisition of the latest phase of the Cygnus regional multi-client 3D survey in the Vulcan Sub-basin, offshore...

Read More+
SNC-LAVALIN AWARDED ENGINEERING CONTRACT FROM AL DHAFRA PETROLEUM

January 21, 2020

SNC-Lavalin has been awarded an engineering services contract from Al Dhafra Petroleum, a joint venture company between ADNOC and the Korea National...

Read More+
TOTAL WILL DEVELOP THE AL KHARSAAH SOLAR PROJECT IN QATAR

January 21, 2020

Total has entered into agreements for the development of the Al Kharsaah Solar PV IPP Project, a 800 megawatt-peak (MWp) solar plant that will be located...

Read More+
LAMPRELL RECEIVES CONTRACT AWARD FOR TWO JACKUPS FROM IMI

January 21, 2020

International Maritime Industries (IMI) has signed two Rig Purchase Agreement’s with ARO; a world-class offshore drilling contractor that owns, operates,...

Read More+
IPC ACQUIRES GRANITE’S ASSETS IN SOUTHERN ALBERTA

January 21, 2020

International Petroleum Corp. (IPC) has entered into an agreement to acquire Granite Oil Corp. for total equity and debt consideration of approximately...

Read More+
MAERSK INTEGRATOR AWARDED TWO-WELL CONTRACT EXTENSION WITH UNDER AKER BP ALLIANCE

January 20, 2020

Maersk Drilling, the Danish offshore rig contractor advised that in direct continuation of the rig’s current workscope, Maersk Integrator will move...

Read More+
NYK AND VAN OORD TO OPERATE WIND INSTALLATION VESSELS IN JAPAN

January 20, 2020

Van Oord and the Japanese shipping company NYK have agreed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly own and operate offshore wind installation...

Read More+
ENI AWARDED NEW LICENSE IN THE NAMIBE BASIN OFFSHORE ANGOLA

January 20, 2020

ANPG, State concessionaire for oil & gas rights in Angola, assigned Block 28, in the Namibe Basin, to Eni (as Operator with 60%), as a result of...

Read More+
FREEPORT LNG STARTS COMMERCIAL OPERATION OF TRAIN 2

January 20, 2020

Freeport LNG today announced the start of commercial operations for the second liquefaction train, of its three train facility, with the commencement...

Read More+
DRILLING ALONG OIL CREEK IN THE 1860’s

January 19, 2020

The adventure of the modern oil industry started along Oil Creek, a tributary of the Allegheny River in Verango County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania...

Read More+
SCHLUMBERGER FULL-YEAR REVENUE HIT BY THE SHARP FALL OF NORTH AMERICAN MARKET

January 18, 2020

Schlumberger full-year worldwide revenue of $32.9 billion was flat year-on-year, with international revenue growth of 7%. Fourth-quarter revenue of...

Read More+