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1st Pipe Ram BOP (1930’s)

In 1922, James Abercrombie and Harry Cameron filed a patent for the hydraulic ram-type blowout preventer which was approved in January 1926. It revolutionized the petroleum industry when installed on a wellhead, the rams could be closed off, allowing full control of pressure during drilling and production. In 1922, their Type MO blowout preventer (BOP) could withstand pressures of up to 3,000 psi. Subsequent improvements to increase the device’s capability were adapted including the development of Shear-type ram BOPs which require large additional amounts of closing force to cut through tubing occupying the wellbore. Large expensive auxiliary hydraulic actuators are frequently mounted to a BOP to provide additional shearing force.

1st Annular BOP (1940’s)

Annular BOPs (ABOPs) have been a critical component of onshore and offshore exploration. Designed by Hydril in the 1940’s, they provide a pressure barrier by sealing around tubular goods, like drill pipes, during drilling operations. ABOPs feature two moving parts: the hydraulic piston, and the rubber packing unit. The replaceable elastomer packing allows for drillers to control the pressure in the well while still rotating or moving the drill string in or out of the well.

1st Subsea completion & Spherical BOP (1950’s and 1970’s respectively)

The first subsea well completion system enabled drillers to explore the deep waters beyond the reach of self-elevated jack up rigs. Originally founded by William D. Shaffer in 1928 as Shaffer Tool Works, NL Shaffer joined with Varco, which merged with National Oilwell to become National Oilwell Varco in 2005. In addition to having developed the first subsea well completion system in the mid 1950s for Texaco and Union Oil, they developed the first spherical blowout preventer in 1972.

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