Keyword
in
Collection
Date
to
Rodrigue, Myron
Rodrigue transcript, 1 of 2
File size: 381 KB
Citation
MLA
APA
Chicago/Turabian
University of Houston. Rodrigue, Myron - Rodrigue transcript, 1 of 2. August 13, 2009 - September 22, 2012. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. June 29, 2022. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/houhistory/item/1804/show/1802.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

University of Houston. (August 13, 2009 - September 22, 2012). Rodrigue, Myron - Rodrigue transcript, 1 of 2. Oral Histories from the Houston History Project. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/houhistory/item/1804/show/1802

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

University of Houston, Rodrigue, Myron - Rodrigue transcript, 1 of 2, August 13, 2009 - September 22, 2012, Oral Histories from the Houston History Project, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed June 29, 2022, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/houhistory/item/1804/show/1802.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

URL
Embed Image
Compound Item Description
Title Rodrigue, Myron
Creator (LCNAF)
  • University of Houston
Creator (Local)
  • Houston History Project
Contributor (LCNAF)
  • Theriot, Jason P., 1975-, interviewer
  • Priest, Tyler, interviewer
Date August 13, 2009 - September 22, 2012
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Energy development
Subject.Name (Local)
  • Rodrigue, Myron
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • interviews
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Sound
  • Text
Original Item Location ID 2006-005, HHA 01023
Original Collection Oral Histories - Houston History Project
Digital Collection Oral Histories from the Houston History Project
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/houhistory
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
File Name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Rodrigue transcript, 1 of 2
Format (IMT)
  • application/pdf
File Name hhaoh_201604_184_004.pdf
Transcript HHA# 01023 Page 1 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 1 Houston History Archives BOEM DEEPWATER GULF OF MEXICO HISTORY PROJECT Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Date: August 13, 2009 Place: Houston, Texas Interviewer: Jason Theriot Ethnographic preface: Myron Rodrigue was born and raised in Thibodaux, Louisiana, in 1947. Rodriguez earned an engineering drafting certificate and joined the U.S. Army reserves, and in 1958 joined up with McDermott. After a few promotions, Rodrigue attended night college for several years, learning cost analysis and gaining more engineering experience. Rodrigue worked as a field engineer in McDermott’s fabrication yard, and then as a project engineer for the massive Shell Oil Cognac fixed platform in the 1970s. He later worked for another fabrication firm on platforms for the North Sea, but returned to McDermott in time to work on Shell’s landmark Bullwinkle structure. Rodrigue later worked for Aker, building large structures for deepwater projects in the Gulf of Mexico, including Conoco’s Jolliet tension-leg well platform. HHA# 01023 Page 2 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 2 Houston History Archives JT: Today is August 13, 2009. We’re in Houston, Texas. This is an interview with Myron Rodrigue for the MMS History Project. Interviewer is Jason Theriot. MR: Rodrigue [pronunciation], that’s how they pronounced it when I was a kid. JT: R-o-d? MR: R-i-g-u-e, Rodrigue. JT: Where are you from, Myron? MR: I was born and raised in Thibodaux. JT: How long ago? MR: I was born in December of 1947; I’m one of seven children. JT: Were your parents farmers? MR: No, my daddy was raised in a place called Chackbay. JT: How do you spell that? MR: C-h-a-c-k-b-a-y, Chackbay. It’s maybe ten miles out of Thibodaux. When he was a kid, it was the middle of a swamp. It took all day to get to Thibodaux from there. JT: Is it north of Thibodaux? MR: Yeah, it’s between the Mississippi River and Thibodaux. There’s Vacherie on the river and that’s Chackbay in the Kraemer area. Anyway, that’s where my dad was raised. He was one of twelve children. When he came back from World War II, he got a job at the hospital in the laundry and ran the hospital laundry in Thibodaux. JT: What did he do during the war? MR: Well, he got in late. He was in the infantry on his way to Japan when they dropped the bomb, and they never had to invade Japan. So I’d had a pretty good chance of not being here if they’d had to. JT: My grandfather, too. He was on the way on a navy ship, and they turned around and came back. MR: He got diverted to Korea, he never had to see combat. HHA# 01023 Page 3 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 3 Houston History Archives JT: You were telling me that you went to Thibodaux Catholic? MR: I went to Thibodaux College. It’s a Catholic high school. My first through third grade was at Mount Carmel. That was the Catholic school, and then they separated the girls and the boys at fourth grade. The girls stayed at Mount Carmel, and the boys went to Thibodaux College. That was back then when going to Catholic school was more a religious issue and there weren’t any other issues associated. We were raised pretty poor. My daddy used to have to make deals with the priests to keep us in school, because at one time he had seven of us in school. I don’t know what he paid per month, five dollars a month or something like that. I went from first grade to twelfth grade mostly with the same guys. I think when we graduated, we were thirty-six guys, and at least twenty, twenty-five of us went from first grade to twelfth grade together. JT: So, Myron, after you graduated, did you go off to college? JT: No. I graduated from Thibodaux College in 1965. That was the peak of the Vietnam War and drafting. They were changing from the regular draft to the lottery. I didn’t know how to go to college because my mom and dad, they didn’t know. Actually, the school didn’t do much of a job of telling you whether you went, either. There was no counseling or anything like that, and I didn’t know anything, and I didn’t think we had any money. I thought you had to have money to go to college, so I went to trade school. At the time, the trade school system in Louisiana was pretty interesting and good, I thought, looking back on it. We’re missing that today. Anyway, I went and took drafting, and in nine months I got a drafting certificate, and then I got a job at a little civil engineering company in Thibodaux called Paul Hecht [phonetic] Engineers, and worked there. At the same time, I joined the army reserves and I got married. We got married on the nineteenth of September, and then I got shipped off on active duty in October. That was ’67, I believe. I hadn’t got to my twentieth birthday and we were married. We were nineteen years old in September, and my wife and I both became twenty in December. I got called to active duty for the army reserves in October. I had to do my basic training. So I was married a month, and I left in October, got home the following March, and went back to work at Carl Hecht. That was interesting, because when I came back from the army, we paid our deposit on our apartment, paid all our deposits for phones and all that stuff, and bought our first load of groceries, and we had zero money. We didn’t have a nickel to our name after we did all that. [laughs] I can’t imagine that happening today. HHA# 01023 Page 4 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 4 Houston History Archives Anyway, that was March. In April, the neighbor across the street from my mother asked me if I would consider applying for a job at McDermott, in an MTO group. So I applied for that job and I got it. I think it was April 22, 1968. That’s between ’65 and ’68, we just covered all of that. Okay, I might have left out a whole bunch. I worked at Hecht for maybe a year or so, then I started with McDermott in what they called the Drafting Department. It was mainly a material takeoff group to support estimating. JT: This was in Amelia? MR: Yeah, in Amelia, in Bayou Boeuf. JT: So you were still living in Thibodaux, driving back? MR: I was still living in Thibodaux. When I first started working for Hecht, I used to walk to work. I didn’t even have a car. I walked to work until I saved enough money, and then I think I borrowed $900 to buy a 1965 Volkswagen Beetle. So that Beetle was what I was using. Me and two other guys from Thibodaux were carpooling, we drove back and forth to McDermott from Thibodaux. I was in takeoff from ’68 till somewhere around 1970, ’71. I got promoted to what they call a cost analyst, and that was my transition from hourly pay to salary pay. So my first job was $1.40 an hour with Hecht, and then I went to work at McDermott for $1.60 an hour, and then from that transition from ’68 to ’71, I think I was making $2.35 an hour, and then they put me on salary for $775 a month. I said, ooh, this is big money. [laughter] So it was cost analyst for three or four months, and then I caught up all the backlog of job analysis that had to be done, and I started going to school at night at Nicholls [State University]. That’s when I started my college education. I never finished, never got a degree, but I went to school. I went nights for, I don’t know, four or five years. JT: Do you think that trade school experience helped you in the early office work, drafting and estimating? MR: Yeah, it taught me the basics of reading drawings and scale and dimensions and all that stuff, and it was the end to be able to be interviewed for a job in the MTO group at McDermott. I was as greenhorn as could be. The experience I had at Hecht didn’t translate well to at least what was required at McDermott, but I was an entry-level MTO guy. My supervisor, the guy that hired me at McDermott, was a guy named T.J. Blanchard [phonetic]. He had the patience of the saints with me for the first three months. I mean, my first three months, I was lost as a goose. But after that, HHA# 01023 Page 5 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 5 Houston History Archives eventually I got pretty efficient with what was required to do at MTO, and I guess that’s why they promoted me into cost analysis. Then it took me three months to work up the backlog of cost analysis, and they started letting me do estimate work. So I started estimating work. I started learning how to read contracts and learning about cost systems. I was pretty curious about how all that worked. The man that ran McDermott Fabricates at the time was a guy named Bill Earls [phonetic]. I found out he didn’t have a college degree, and I said, well, if he could do that, there’s something I probably can do. So I set some goals that one day I wanted to run that operation. I started going to school at night and studying petroleum. There was a program at Nicholls that was a seven and seven program, and I was in the regular program, but there were guys that were taking the same courses that I was taking that were in the seven and seven program. It was in petroleum engineering technology. It was an associate degree. So I said I’ll start in the associate degree, get all the basics, and then maybe I’ll transfer to another college or do something and get a civil engineering degree later. JT: So this 7 and 7, it was seven days a week? MR: Well, no. These guys worked offshore seven and seven, right? So on their seven days offshore, they’d work, they’d come in on their seven days, and their classes were scheduled around their seven days off. JT: Wow. I wonder if that’s still going on. MR: I don’t know. I doubt it. JT: I’ll bet you a lot of guys got degrees doing that. MR: I know there were a few guys that worked. I remember one particular guy, Gerald—what was Gerald’s last name? Anyway, I used to tutor him at night, because a lot of them were struggling with the things like statics and strengths and dynamics, and that for some reason it was pretty easy to me. He’d come over to the house, and I’d help him with his homework and prepare him for tests and all that stuff. I knew some of the seven and seven guys because that’s when we crossed paths in those courses. I was within five hours of getting my associate degree, and the two courses I had left were offered only offered during the day. One was a chemistry lab and one was technical drawing. I tried to get them to accept my drafting certificate for credit for that, but then I got promoted to be the project engineer for Cognac at the same time all this was going on. I had a choice. I said, well, do I try to get these courses done during the day while I’ve got his job, or pay attention to the job? They had just promoted me over everybody else, so I just abandoned school. HHA# 01023 Page 6 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 6 Houston History Archives But even in the middle of this, I had a discussion with my boss’ boss about quitting and going to school at the University of Houston. My mother-in-law and father-in-law lived in Sweeny, Texas, and I was going to quit, cash in everything I had, and go to school and get a civil engineering degree and then go back to work. That guy actually talked me out of it, and it all worked out, it seems so, anyway. JT: So when you got started at McDermott in the early seventies, what type of projects were they working on and what were you working on? MR: When I started in 1968, I think they were building what was the world’s record water depth structure at the time, which I think was a platform, a jacket for Shell for 373 feet of water. I don’t remember the block, but I’m sure you can find that out. I was in estimating. They moved me into the field as a field engineer, I became a senior engineer, and then when Cognac came around, they made me the project engineer for Cognac, and that was 1975. So between ’71 and ’75, I was a field engineer in McDermott’s east yard, which was the jacket fabrication yard, and I handled all the jacket construction for Humble or Exxon or Shell, for several clients. JT: Were they building big stuff at the time? MR: The big jackets then were 300 feet of water. JT: Big for the time. MR: Yeah. Big for the time, and they all varied a little bit, but they were all similar too. Then, when I got moved into the yard before Cognac, my very first field engineering project handed over a project that was Exxon’s prototype for subsea. I think, it ended up installed in West Delta 73, somewhere in West Delta. It was one of these projects that wasn’t top secret because you couldn’t hide it. There must have been, I don’t know, six or seven Ph.D. engineers for Exxon assigned to this thing, and I was the field engineer and I was kind of their gofer. It was an interesting project, because when they figured out that they needed to do something different, I’d go get it made for them and get all this stuff done. That was in 1972, ’73, something like that. The next one, I’m sure you can get the exact dates from them, but that was when they were thinking about subsea production. It’s nothing like the subsea looks now, but it was a start. JT: That’s very interesting, because I’ve met a couple of guys from Shell who worked specifically on Shell’s early subsea development. I actually interviewed the HHA# 01023 Page 7 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 7 Houston History Archives director of the program. It was called Aerospace, and it was a joint project between Shell and the U.S. Government. And I saw a photograph of the Shell prototype. This thing was massive. When people start talking to you about the original subsea projects, it’s hard to visualize it in your head. MR: The one that Exxon built had a lot of moving parts, and what you look at now and you see what a subsea manifold looks like now versus this, this is just simple. It’s more exotic materials and things, but it’s pretty simple stuff. Exxon’s one was in maybe 90 feet of water. It was not in deep water, but it was, I guess, where they could still go play with it with divers. JT: Shell did the same thing. I think they were either in Vermilion or South Marsh area, in shallow water, and this thing was huge and it had the tanks and it had all the manifold. MR: You had to put it out there and it had to float, then you had to sink it. That was the concept, because there was no big equipment back then. JT: So you guys fabricated that? MR: Yeah, we built the whole thing, except for little special gizmos that was all proprietary stuff that Exxon had. Anyway, for the most part, it was jackets up to the 300-foot range. Then when 1975 hit, that was a huge change from 373 foot of water to Cognac, which was 1,020 feet of water. That was amazing, because we didn’t know what we didn’t know about building something that big. [laughs] JT: Do you remember when Shell came to you guys or whenever you were offered that? MR: Oh, yeah, I remember the estimating. It really was a negotiated deal, because McDermott was pretty much the only place that had the resources and the know-how, and that’s what Shell wanted to do, they wanted it to be built there. Shell designed Cognac to be built with the stuff McDermott had. They designed it to be installed with McDermott’s equipment. At the time we had the biggest derrick, which was a 500-ton derrick barge. JT: So you couldn’t install something in one piece, probably, with the one piece equipment you all had. MR: No. In fact, they had to modify the DB 16. I forget the other, but they had to modify all three parts tremendously to make them. JT: Just to be able to— MR: Just to install Cognac. HHA# 01023 Page 8 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 8 Houston History Archives JT: The three parts. MR: The three parts, yeah. And the three parts by themselves were a class at the time. The top section of Cognac was like a 575-foot jacket, and the midsection was 300-and-something feet on its side, and the base was 14,500 tons, if I remember. So it was a whole different animal. We had to learn a whole lot of different stuff on Cognac that we didn’t know we needed to learn. Just simple measuring steel that long and big and thick was something we had to teach ourselves. I mean, a guy named Fritz Voca [phonetic], I almost drove him nuts measuring just a straight leg. I even remember the dimension, 172 foot six inches. I’ll never forget it. I measured that leg probably five hundred times before we could repeat the measurements. [laughs] We had to teach ourselves how to repeat these measurements, because that was the first time we had to do that. That was the middle leg of the two middle bents, of the base section. And if we couldn’t get measurements right, how were we going to make three pieces fit together? JT: So you would measure with a tape? MR: We knew we had to be accurate, so I bought certified calibrated tapes. We bought scales where we could pull the same tension on them every time. We started with the basic surveying stuff and started laying them out, and I’d lay it out one morning, and we’d come back and double-check it, and if you double-checked it at two o’clock in the afternoon, the leg might be an inch, inch and a half long. So we started saying something’s not right. We always looked at the ambient temperature of the air when we first started. It knew that temperature was an issue, but we said, heck, the ambient’s 90 degrees; that’s not going to affect anything. But the problem was the steel temperature, the delta between the steel temperature and ambient was huge. JT: Humidity? MR: No, just the temperature of the steel. The ambient might be 90 degrees, but the steel temperature could have been 130. It was different. That was a huge difference when you’re talking about these big massive legs that soak up a lot of heat and expand. I still remember what the coefficient expansion of steel is. I think it’s 6.5 times 10 to the minus 6. Because me and Dan—you may have talked to Dan Godfrey. JT: Yes. MR: Dan helped me try to figure all this out. So Dan made me a chart of temperature and he figured all this out. We had a chart where we could do our temperature HHA# 01023 Page 9 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 9 Houston History Archives corrections. The main thing was we had to figure out what was the right temperature. So we bought some digital thermometers and we bought some that had probes we could put on the top and the bottom, and what we found out eventually was the average temperature of the steel was the temperature you could predict the expansion on. So we started being able to duplicate dimensions, and we started relying on it, and once you got it in your head that that was right, we started being able to predict and measure, to repeat our measurements. Then we started into using theodolites and the first generation of infrared measuring devices. And what you find out with all those things is that they’re about as accurate as you can measure. JT: Was there a CAD system at the time? MR: No, there was so such thing as CAD. JT: So this was all drawings and measurements. MR: Oh, yeah, all drawings and measurements and hand scheduling everything. That was kind of the birth of dimensional control in the industry. We were the first people to tackle that and build steel structures to a standard temperature. So we reduced everything back to, I think, 68 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t remember why we picked 68 degrees. Every time we measured something, we reduced all our dimensions back to a standard temperature. JT: Was that something that was known prior to Cognac, or was that something that was discovered? MR: No, they were just building Cognac. You think about it, everything else is one piece. Back then, and it should still apply now, dimensions on jacket construction were not critical. The only really critical dimension on a jacket was the plus-15 where the pile cutoffs were, and you still had a lot of room because you drove the piling through the legs. You had shim packs to move the pile around, and the deck had to stab into the piling, not into the jacket. So you had a lot of room. Fundamentally, the way the specs were designed, it was a jacket structure, if you got the batter right, the back end didn’t matter. The water didn’t matter. But the back end, how wide, if you were an inch wide on the bottom, it didn’t matter. JT: If you were even ten inches, it didn’t— MR: Didn’t matter. The top mattered where you stabbed the deck into it. But then we started changing to going to skirt piles and tying top sides directly into the steel. Then the measurements mattered. But Cognac is what allowed us to get that sophisticated. HHA# 01023 Page 10 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 10 Houston History Archives JT: Because the measurements had to be extremely accurate. MR: Yeah, because of the interfaces, because of the interfaces for the jacket structure, for the conductor guide alignment, for all the things; the riser, pull two connections. All that stuff had to be in the right place. JT: Now, what happens when you put this rascal in the water and the temperature would change, would it not? MR: Yeah, but it changes uniformly, and what we learned, what we did, Shell hired Boeing on Cognac to confirm and to check the measurements we were doing. When we were finishing up the base, that was the first time Boeing showed up. They had this instrument; I think it was floralite [phonetic]. It was a proprietary Boeing instrument they used to line up fuselages of 747s or something. Anyway, they came and we set up to survey so they could verify our measurements. We had like three different surveys. We had our survey, we had photogeometric surveys, and we had the Boeing survey. The Boeing survey and the photogeometric survey verified that we could measure. That’s what it did, because we were measuring with our techniques. But for the final plane of the top of the base section that mated to the midsection, we didn’t start surveying till the temperature of the structure stabilized. We had recording thermometers all over the base, and we’d watch them. When the steel temperature quit dropping and flattened out, that’s when we’d start surveying. That usually was about nine or ten o’clock at night. And we’d survey all the way through the night until the recording thermometer started showing the temperature rising, and that was usually right as soon as the sun cracked the horizon, you could see the temperature start going up, so we stopped surveying. I think we surveyed six days in a row all night. JT: Same for the second section? MR: Well, the same thing, you had to do the base and the middle and the top, all that. So I’d go to work at seven in the morning, go home for about an hour or two, come back and work all night, and then go home and take a shower and come back to work. JT: I guess you weren’t still driving that Beetle, huh? MR: No, I had a company car by then. [laughs] But it was interesting. Tell you how things have changed, you know, when we finished by five o’clock in the morning or whatever the time the sun was peeking up, we’d stop survey, go over to the trailer where the Shell inspector’s trailer, and we’d drink a beer. [laughs] He’d have some iced-down beer in his trailer. Times are different. HHA# 01023 Page 11 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 11 Houston History Archives JT: Now, was that to help you go to sleep or take the nerve off? MR: I think it was his appreciation for the work we were doing, but nobody asked him to do it. You can’t do that now. We worked hard and played hard, though. But those were some of the things that were unique. Learning how to measure those big structures was, I think, a milestone. JT: So what was your role? MR: I was the project engineer for that. JT: So how many guys did you have working under you? MR: Well, for the base, it was me by myself. You’d never see that today. I mean, I ordered all the steel for the base and everything that needed to be ordered from McDermott’s point. I was the interface with Dan. Dan Godfrey was Shell’s project engineer for the jacket, so he was my direct report. The superintendents were responsible for building the structure, but I was responsible for servicing them and giving them everything they needed. JT: Where did your steel come from, the Northeast? MR: No, I think U.S. Steel was a good. It was mostly domestic steel back then. JT: Was that from the Northeast? MR: We also got some Japanese steel. We got some braces made in Japan. JT: They would truck it in or barge it in? MR: Steel was usually barged in. It wasn’t very difficult to get steel back then, but we got some braces and things made in Japan. That was one of the first times we ever did that. JT: So from the base, did you go to the next section up top? MR: We did the base, we did the middle, and we did the top section. The middle and the top section went on the same time. They had to go offshore, they went boom, boom, boom. So, yeah, the base was built first, and then we built the midsection on the same foundation as we built the base, and then we built the top side in another place. JT: In Louisiana? HHA# 01023 Page 12 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 12 Houston History Archives MR: We built it in McDermott’s southeast yard annex. That southeast yard annex was eight foot of reef shell. That land was made to build Cognac. We put a bulkhead in and we pumped in eight foot of reef shell. We can’t do that today; there’s no more shell. JT: I guess that landscape is still intact. MR: Oh, yeah. It’s still there, yeah. It’s kind of big and empty right now. There’s a whole bunch of little sideline stories. Kind of funny, looking back on it, but we drove a pile through a 35,000-volt cable. That was interesting. We did a whole lot of different things. JT: Shut down the whole yard? MR: I’m the only guy in the world that’s moved 14,500 tons by accident. That’s a little sideline story. The base section was the first structure built in the Gulf. That’s the first structure built on pile-founded, perfectly leveled. We spent a whole lot of money on a foundation to make sure that the load-out would be as smooth as it could be. We had a Teflon-coated surface, and the Shell people were very interested in getting the breakout coefficient of friction for that structure. That took us eighteen months to build it, it’s been sitting there, 14,000 tons of steel. The barge was brand-new and it had a jacking system. We designed something for 3500 tons of pull, I think, and Shell didn’t think that was going to be enough. They wanted some reserves, so I designed a push beam in the back of both of the legs where we could put some big jacks. We had these 150-ton jacks, and I had them overhauled and rebuilt to where we thought we could get 200 tons out of them. So I had 1600 tons of auxiliary push in the back of the jacket. Everybody wanted this coefficient. They wanted to be able to record the force, because they had a way to measure it. Shell put guards on the barge so we wouldn’t energize the jacks when we weren’t there. It was late one night, and Dan went to dinner with one of the rigging superintendents while me and this other guy were getting the jacks installed on cassettes. The way we had it, we’d stick a jack in and we’d push. We had a push plate on the back. These jacks were as long as this table, and the ram was about ten inches. So we put a jack in and we pushed it, bumped it, and tightened it up against the push plate. Then we put another one in and do the same thing. We did that, and when we were getting to the last few jacks to put in on both sides, we couldn’t tighten the jacks up. Then the rigging superintendent came to me, and he said, “Myron, I think we moved the structure.” HHA# 01023 Page 13 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 13 Houston History Archives I said, “No, don’t tell me that.” So I walked up to the end of the skid and I looked down and I saw there was about half or three-quarter-inch of clean Teflon. I looked down and I said, “Oh, shit,” and we’d just moved it with these jacks. They kept putting pressure on the jacks, and they couldn’t get them to stay tight. So there must have been thirty people standing around me and a guy named [Camille] “Snow” Westerman. Then somebody said, “Here comes Dan Godfrey.” And all of a sudden, pshwwwww, it was just me. [laughter] Later Dan walked up. He had already heard because the Shell guys that were posted on the barge had radios, and they came down and saw the clean Teflon. Dan walks up to me, he looks and he says, “So I guess you can’t trust anybody.” I’m looking at him, and I said he’s never going to believe we moved this by accident. [laughs] So I had to write a letter the next day to explain what happened. I handwrote the letter and sent it to Dan. But that’s exactly what happened. We moved that structure with, the best as we can tell, about 800 tons of force. It was that level Teflon, and it didn’t have any trouble. JT: So I guess the load-out was a challenge, but it wasn’t impossible. MR: Load-outs today are less dramatic than they were back then, but there are a lot more engineering in load-outs now. JT: Did you have to build specialized barges to do that? MR: That was a special barge, the Oceanic. There were a lot of special things built for Cognac. The lowering frames on the derrick barges, they were lowered. They never used the derricks; they lowered them with lowering winches. JT: They lowered the derricks? MR: They didn’t use the derrick barges; they didn’t use the crane on the derrick barge. They designed some lowering winches with massive frames that they put on the barge, and they actually lowered. They had two barges with these lowering winches, and they put the base section in between them and hooked them up, and then they lowered. They put a little bit of negative buoyancy on the structure, and they lowered it to the seafloor. They had adjustable mud mats on Cognac. The mud mats were huge. I mean, there were lots of things on Cognac that were HHA# 01023 Page 14 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 14 Houston History Archives unique and first. To me, that was the first deep water; going from 373 to a 1020 foot, boom. JT: So then you ended up in Corpus Christi. MR: Yeah. JT: I’m assuming shortly thereafter. MR: That was in 1978, but I ended up in Corpus Christi in 1985. JT: So what did you do from the end of Cognac to Bullwinkle? MR: Well, what happened right when we were getting ready is that we were loading out the top section of Cognac, and I was approached by Raymond Fabricators to go to work for them. An ex-McDermott guy was running Raymond International, and they talked me into going to work for them. You know, they throw the money in front of you and all that stuff. I was too young to understand anything, so I went, and I ran their fabrication operation for eleven months. JT: Where were they? MR: They had the Gulf Island yard in Houma; it was kind of new. Then they had that little old DuPont yard right south of the McDermott east yard. I was there for eleven months and I watched what was going on. Raymond ended up going broke. My boss’ boss was a CEO of Raymond; I was watching what was going on, and I didn’t see a future there. Then a friend of mine called me, he said, “Hey, you want to come back to work for McDermott?” I said, “I’ll go flip hamburgers at McDonald’s right now,” you know. I didn’t see any future there. So I went to work back for McDermott. I went to be a division engineer at the fab yard in Dubai; I was over there for a little over a year. That was interesting because I took a pay cut to go back to work for McDermott. I told them so. But money isn’t everything. JT: Were they building similar structures? MR: They were building small Persian Gulf structures; a lot of them but small. I was there for a year and three months, and then I got transferred from there. The two VPs made a swap, and they transferred me to Scotland. I was the estimating manager for the North Sea, and then I got asked to come back to Morgan City. I HHA# 01023 Page 15 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 15 Houston History Archives came back in 1982 to Morgan City and was there till ’85, when Kiewit started courting me to Corpus. I didn’t want to go, but they wouldn’t go away. At the same time, one of the McDermott guys, the one guy I worked for in Scotland, was trying to get me transferred back overseas. The Morgan City operation was not doing well, and I thought the management was pretty weak. McDermott went through some pretty tough times between ’80, ’82, ’85. JT: So how was the North Sea experience? Were you building big stuff? MR: Oh, yeah. The last thing I did over there was negotiate the Conoco Northwest Hutton TLP topsides, which was the second TLP, I guess. That was an interesting negotiation. Then we were building a couple of big jackets then; I was estimating manager of that. JT: Did you all build that Conoco TLP? MR: We built the topsides, yeah. I got transferred back just at the beginning of it. JT: So McDermott was taking a hit during the bust in the eighties, and you decided to finally go with Kiewit. MR: Back then Kiewit needed somebody to run their offshore operation. I’m guessing that one of the reasons I got there was because of Shell. My career kind of floated around Shell, and I don’t think Kiewit would have looked for me if they hadn’t run me by Shell or Shell run me by them. They started talking to me in April of ’85, and in September I decided to go. JT: So do you think Kiewit knew about Bullwinkle? MR: Oh, they had the job. JT: They had the job before they hired you? MR: Yeah. JT: So they knew that you had worked on Cognac. MR: Oh, yeah. JT: And they needed your experience. MR: Oh, yeah. JT: That’s probably why they wouldn’t leave you alone. HHA# 01023 Page 16 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 16 Houston History Archives MR: That’s right, I guess. But, yeah, that’s what happened. I didn’t know who Kiewit was. I didn’t have a clue who Kiewit was. I had to talk to Gordon Sterling. You may have talked to him. JT: Yeah. MR: I called Gordon Sterling, and I said, “Who is Kiewit? They called.” And at the time I was the project manager for Boxer, another Shell project. I told Gordon, “Where do you want me?” [laughs] That’s what I told him, “Where do you want me?” He told me Kiewit were good people and real people. Then I looked into them, and the more they talked to me, the more comfortable I got with them. JT: Before we get into your experience with them, tell me the background of Peter Kiewit and that whole operation. MR: Kiewit was founded in 1884, basically. That’s their founding year. A guy named John Kiewit was a Dutch immigrant; he had moved to Omaha in the 1880s, and he made bricks. In the 1880s, Omaha was a boomtown. It was the gateway to the West; it was a big cattle country with trains and all that. So he moved and started making bricks to meet the needs of the building industry in Omaha. John Kiewit had two sons; I think Andrew and Ralph, who started building buildings with their dad’s bricks. I think John had a son named Peter, and Peter had a son named Peter. The last Peter was running Peter Kiewit Sons in the 1920s. JT: Still in the Omaha area? MR: Yes, still based in Omaha. The last Peter is the one that kind of took Peter Kiewit Sons into the modern era and grew it as a national contractor. In the 1930s, as we were getting ready for World War II, they built a couple of army bases, and that’s when they became a national contractor, and it grew from there. JT: How did they end up in Corpus? MR: Kiewit’s always looking for places to expand their construction business, and they thought the deepwater offshore was a new market where they need some capacity. Kiewit had a guy looking into how to get in that business, and he ran across a guy named H.W. Bailey, who was a retired McDermott executive, who was actually kind of helping ETPM sell a yard. ETPM is a French company that had one of the original yards in Corpus. So the Kiewit guy and Mr. Bailey got together, and actually I think Mr. Bailey’s the guy that got Kiewit on the bid list for Bullwinkle, and Mr. Bailey’s the guy that called me first to put me together with Kiewit. JT: So he was no longer with McDermott. HHA# 01023 Page 17 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 17 Houston History Archives MR: No, he wasn’t. He was a consultant probably more than anything. I don’t think there was a friendly parting of the ways there. JT: So when did Kiewit arrive? MR: At the end of ’84, beginning of ’85. JT: What yard did they buy? MR: They bought ETPM’s property. There’s two yards. If you go back to the original Gulf Marine days, which is end of ’84, beginning of ’85, this was the Bullwinkle yard right here. It’s somewhere right here, this is the ETPM yard. JT: Who is ETPM? I’ve never heard of them. MR: They’re a big French company. JT: Were they contractors? MR: Yeah. JT: What were they building? MR: They were building small offshore structures. They went out of business in ’70-something. They tried it and they failed, so this yard was empty when Kiewit took it over. Then Kiewit secured a lease on this property from Baker Marine to build Bullwinkle. Bullwinkle was a joint venture between Gulf Marine and Kaiser, and Gulf Marine was Gulf Marine Fabricators over here. This was Bullwinkle Constructors right here. JT: ETPM, any idea how long they had been there? MR: Not very long. They built the yard from scratch. I’m guessing they were there for two or three years. JT: So they didn’t buy an existing yard? MR: No, I think they built the yard from scratch. They didn’t do a very good job; it was a piece of junk when I took it over. JT: I never heard of a French contractor coming to the U.S. to build platforms. MR: Yeah, they were there. HHA# 01023 Page 18 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 18 Houston History Archives JT: That’s interesting. Then this was— MR: Baker Marine had this property. See, Baker Marine, their main yard was right here, and then they had this property—I can get you some maps. I think we had 222 acres for Bullwinkle Constructors. Baker Marine might have had 20. JT: How long had Baker been down there? Is that Larry Baker’s? MR: I want to say ’70-something, late seventies. I’m guessing. JT: Because they bought this property. MR: Yeah. JT: Was it an existing shipyard? MR: No, I think they started it. JT: That would be at the tip of Ingleside Point? MR: That’s Ingleside Point. Larry can fill you in on his history much better than I can. Now, see, we’re over here now. JT: So you’re to the west. MR: We’re right here now. Kiewit Offshore is right here. JT: Do you still have this yard? MR: No. We ended up having to sell this back to the Norwegians. We started as Gulf Marine Fabricators in the ’84, ’85 timeframe. Gulf Marine Fabricators then became Aker Gulf Marine in 1991. It was a partnership between Kiewit and Aker. Then in September 2000, we sold our share of Aker Gulf Marine to Aker. Two or three weeks later, Aker sold to Stolt, and then not long after that Stolt sold to Technip. About a year later, they sold to Gulf Ireland. That’s the history of these two original Gulf Marine properties. The way we got back in the business was that in September of 2000 we sold it, and we ended up with all this cash. We also ended up with pretty much the whole management of the company, because everybody stayed as a Kiewit employee. At Aker Gulf Marine we were all Kiewit people running the company; we had one Norwegian on the payroll. JT: Let me pause you for a second. HHA# 01023 Page 19 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 19 Houston History Archives [Begin File 2] JT: This is part two, interview with Myron Rodrigue. We’re trying to figure out the chronology of coastal bend down there. Let me just summarize what you told me. So this one little yard was ETPM. MR: The yard on the intracoastal. JT: And then Baker had a yard, and then they also had some extra property. MR: Right, they had a lot of extra property. This based at the intersection of Intracoastal and the Corpus Christi ship channel is Ingleside Point. JT: So when Kiewit came in, did they buy this yard, or did they partner with Baker? MR: No. Initially, we had a lease arrangement on the old ETPM yard, and then they leased the land from Baker specifically for Bullwinkle. Then at the end of Bullwinkle, 1988 or so, we decided to purchase all the properties. JT: Does Baker still have that little office? MR: Right now Baker has seven acres that is carved out from the property. JT: Are they still building anything? MR: No, they’re selling parts. Larry can explain all of what they do to you. JT: Okay. So, Gulf Marine. MR: Gulf Marine Fabricators. Original or now? JT: Originally, the original Gulf Marine property— MR: That was the Kiewit property. JT: Was the Kiewit property to build Bullwinkle? MR: No. Gulf Marine Fabricators is there. That’s a Kiewit company. JT: Is that a subsidiary of Kiewit? MR: PKS, yes, it was a Kiewit company. Then they had Bullwinkle Constructors, which was a JV [joint venture] of Gulf Marine and Kaiser out of California. JT: Correct, for the steel. HHA# 01023 Page 20 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 20 Houston History Archives MR: Right. JT: Where is Gulf Marine Fabricators out of? MR: Gulf Marine was Gulf Marine right here. JT: They’ve always been there. Is that where they got started? MR: Yes, that was Kiewit. What happened right after I got there is that Kaiser started having financial trouble, and even before we started building Bullwinkle, we bought these guys out. Then Bullwinkle Constructors became just Gulf Marine. But Shell had signed a contract with both, so we kept it throughout the length of the project. Bullwinkle Constructors stayed as Bullwinkle Constructors, had an independent project team and everything else. Whenever we did work with Gulf Marine, we subcontracted to them, even though it was still all one Kiewit company. There was a 10 percent part in Gulf Marine Fabricators, but they went away. When we bought all the properties, we got everything, so we were 100 percent Kiewit until 1991 when Aker became a partner. JT: Did Aker originally have a yard? MR: Nowhere in the U.S. They were Norwegian. The way Aker and Kiewit got together was that there was a job called Hibernia for Mobil up at Newfoundland, a big gravity-based structure. Kiewit and Aker were joint venture partners to put in a bid proposal for the concrete gravity-based structure, and we lost that bid to DORIS, a French company. So they started building Hibernia up in Newfoundland. But a year into the project, they were in trouble, and Mobil kicked doors off the project and came back to Kiewit-Aker joint venture and asked us to finish it. I think it was a year behind schedule and a billion dollars over budget projected. Anyway, Kiewit and Aker were getting together. Aker’s forte was concrete structures from Norway, you know, the big condeeps and all that. So Aker was looking to go international. We were a very small percentage of the total construction volume of Kiewit, so Aker approached Kiewit to become a partner in Gulf Marine, and that’s when we became partners in 1991. That was actually a 51-49 partnership; Kiewit had the 49 percent. JT: So it became Aker Gulf Marine. HHA# 01023 Page 21 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 21 Houston History Archives MR: We changed the name from Gulf Marine Fabricators to Aker Gulf Marine. Everything stayed in place, I stayed running the whole show. Plus since they were a public company, they felt they had to have the 51 percent. It ran pretty smooth until the end when Aker put that whole deepwater group up for sale, and we tried to buy it. We tried to keep the business, but as we found out later, that they already had it sold to the French. Anyway, we ended up selling out. With all the money we got from the sale and the people we had, we had to make a decision on what to do with the money and the people and replace the earnings for Kiewit and all this other stuff. That’s when we ended up deciding to go right back in the same business, because we have new non-compete and all that. That was September when we sold, and then in March we broke ground on this yard. JT: Which is northwest of— MR: Yes, it’s on LaQuinta channel of the Corpus Christi port. JT: And these two yards are vacant now? MR: No. Gulf Island has them. JT: Gulf Island, which came in 2005? MR: Yeah, Technip sold to Gulf Island. They don’t have a lot of work there now, but that’s who owns it. JT: Did you get here in this new place in 1990? MR: We broke ground in 2001. We sold in September of 2000. JT: So, nine years with Aker? MR: Yes. JT: What kind of things were you all building in those nine years? Did you get to go international, did you do some international work with Aker, or was it mainly working in the Gulf of Mexico? MR: We mostly worked in the Gulf of Mexico. We built a compliant tower and we also built some big structures for BP. We built the big jackets. After Bullwinkle, we built Conoco’s Marquette-Joliet projects. We built Mississippi Canyon 109, which has this compliant tower. I’m going back and trying to think. We did a lot of stuff. HHA# 01023 Page 22 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 22 Houston History Archives The last things we were working on when we sold were these fifth-generation drill ships for Transocean, Deep Seas and Enterprise, I think. We built the Enterprise for Transocean, Deep Seas and Enterprise. We built and installed the drill derricks, we integrated some TLPs for Shell. We were the integration contractor. We also built Marlin in a kind of consortium with ABB and Hypodrian [phonetic] and Heerema. We’ve been involved with almost all the TLPs in the Gulf. We were involved in Ursa, because we built the tendons for it. JT: So let’s kind of backtrack now that we kind of have an overview of what this landscape now looks like. So you got there when Kiewit got there at the end of ’84, ‘85. MR: Right. I guess Gulf Marine was formed in November of ’84. JT: Gulf Marine? MR: Gulf Marine Fabricators. Here’s Gulf Marine right here. I got there in September of ’85, and I took control of everything in June of ’86, because I was mainly set up to get Bullwinkle. Initially, the game plan was for me to get Bullwinkle all set up and running, and then in June I took over both facilities. JT: Is there any infrastructure between the two yards? MR: No, it’s basically two independent pieces of property. When the slowdown came after the end of Bullwinkle, we looked at trying to move everything out of there and put it in one place, and you just couldn’t make it work. JT: What is the best way to move equipment from here to here? Is there a rail, is it a barge? MR: It would be barge or a truck. All the parts and pieces we used to build here and then we barge them over here by truck. JT: Is that a deep channel? MR: It’s intracoastal. It’s 14 foot or something. JT: And this is? MR: This is the main ship channel. JT: So that stays dredged. HHA# 01023 Page 23 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 23 Houston History Archives MR: That stays dredged, this stays dredged. This is only required to be 14 foot or 12-foot-6 or something. JT: Is this La Quinta? MR: That is La Quinta. JT: That’s something that was built in the twentieth century, right? MR: The La Quinta channel? Yes. I forget when they dredged it. I don’t remember how far back it goes, but it’s pretty old, because Reynolds, the aluminum plant, and the chemical plant are right here. JT: So you got plenty of access to get out. MR: Oh, we got fabulous access, unobstructed. Very few places that had deepwater are unobstructed, but this place right here is probably the best piece of property for what we do on the whole Gulf Coast. JT: Tell me about Bullwinkle, about some of the challenges that were different from Cognac. MR: Well, in some respects, Bullwinkle’s was most probably the easiest jacket I’ve ever been associated with to build. It was big and one piece. It had some challenges, don’t get me wrong, but the real challenge of Bullwinkle was getting enough and qualified labor to build it. JT: Was that not a problem at McDermott with Cognac? MR: McDermott was not. That’s one of the things where I had to recruit some good people to help me build it. My general superintendent was a guy named Larry Revere [phonetic]. He lived in Thibodaux, but he was raised in Brule-St. Martin [phonetic]. He was one of the best steel fabricators in the world, and recruiting him was a key. Then “Snow” Westerman, the same guy who moved the jacket by accident with me, I got him as a rigging superintendent. He was one of the best big heavy riggers in the world. Then we needed some core talents on how to construct tubular steel structures. There’s a small subset of people in the world that know how to handle tubular steel structures, and they’re all based in South Louisiana. You get outside South Louisiana and they’re hard to come by. So we had a nucleus of maybe ten fitters and Larry and a couple of welding guys from South Louisiana that formed a core of our operation. HHA# 01023 Page 24 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 24 Houston History Archives JT: So when you say recruit, you mean you actually had to go to South Louisiana? How did you do that? MR: I spent a lot of time on the phone and a lot of time on the airplane going back and forth. JT: Trying to catch a guy when he gets off? MR: Yeah, at nighttime. I was in Louisiana quite a bit trying to handpick. I handpicked some of the guys out of there. JT: Really? MR: Yeah. Thank God some of them were still there. Larry’s already retired. JT: This is kind of off the topic. I may have told you this on the phone, but my stepdad was a chief estimator for the Port of Iberia, and he worked for the company called TIMCO. They went under in ’85, ’86, and he was without a job. We packed and were ready to move to Corpus Christi for a job in ’85, ’86. I’m wondering if it had anything to do with TIMCO. MR: It could be, because I’ll tell you what. In 1985 when I got there, you remember things were bad back then. That was the Resolution Trust deal with the housing, and the refineries weren’t doing anything. Nobody had work, people were easy to find. I mean, we had a Job Fair in Corpus Christi, trying to find welders. I talked to 2,000 people in one afternoon, but none of them knew how to weld. They said they were welders, but the kind of welding we do in our industry is unique. The structural welding codes for the big deepwater structures are more difficult than the process piping codes in refineries. Everybody can be a pipe welder, it seems. But when you’re talking about doing deepwater welding, nobody knows the fatigue values you have to get out of your welding muzzle and the low temp properties they want. Nobody knows how you got to lay the weld metal in there; nobody knows how to do that. Not very many welders are exposed to that. JT: Is that something that will come with experience or different equipment or a combination? MR: We had to use different consumables, and the consumables have different techniques and procedures. To ensure toughness, you have to weld different ways than people are used to. A lot of places maybe—I don’t want to get too technical. JT: I was a welder so— MR: But you know what? When you can carry a big puddle uphill, you can lay a lot of weld metal down, and a lot of welders do that because it’s good production. A lot HHA# 01023 Page 25 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 25 Houston History Archives of procedures are written that way. Well, we couldn’t weld any of Bullwinkle that way to get the toughness and the sharper values. They have something called CTOD testing. We had to lay a lot of thin down-hand beads so each bead would temper the other bead. Welders aren’t exposed to that. Then you have to find a welder. We were using flux-core, and we had to develop a flux-core wire that would work with the right flux and with the right nickel content and all that. So we kind of had to tie the welder’s hands to get the toughness right. See, it goes against the grain of putting as much weld metal down as you can. JT: That’s very interesting. MR: So all the welders had to be trained over. JT: I guess you succeeded in recruiting plenty of labor. MR: Oh, yeah, but it was a tough. We always had trouble finding good fitters, and labor has been the biggest issue in all our years down there; it’s been hiring enough craft to grow as much as we’d like to grow. JT: Were there any migrants from the South that came to work on this? MR: Yeah. We don’t have a large percentage, but we have Green Card people, but everything we do is straight up aboveboard. We know what fake cards look like and all that, so we don’t have any illegals. If you mess with illegals, you can get a lot of people. JT: Now, what about Mexicans on Bullwinkle? Did you guys hire Mexicans? MR: Our workforce is 90 percent Hispanic in South Texas. JT: Even in the mid eighties? MR: Oh, yeah. Hispanics in South Texas is like Cajuns in South Louisiana. We also have a lot of people from Mexico. Our general welding superintendent, a guy named Carlos Garcia [phonetic], is a naturalized American citizen from Guadalajara, but he came from Louisiana. We picked him up because he worked on Cognac. JT: I’ll be damned. MR: He’s one of the original Gulf Marine guys still there. But, yeah, we have some people that go home into Mexico for Christmas. I want to think out of the people we’ve got; it’s not a huge percentage. It’s a substantial number, but percentage-wise, it’s not a majority. HHA# 01023 Page 26 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 26 Houston History Archives JT: So Bullwinkle was built from ’86 to ’88? MR: Eighty-five to ’88, yeah. I got there in September, and by June of the following year, Bullwinkle was in really good shape. In fact, it’s the only job in my whole history where we had to slow down to finish. There was a launch barge, we asked Shell if they wanted it six months early, and they couldn’t take it six months early because the launch barge that was being built to carry it wasn’t going to be delivered till the original schedule. But we could have finished Bullwinkle six months early. It’s the only job I’ve ever been on that was that good. JT: What explains that? Is it the experience from Cognac with so many individuals? MR: All of the steel got there on time. We had steel on the ground waiting for us. It was also the quality of the fabrication we had. We had a lot of the braces made in Japan, because that’s kind of the idea, that this was an assembly yard. We had really high-quality steel, and it went together much better. I think the guys that estimated it didn’t plan on the quality of the people we were going to have to put it together. When I got there, I changed the construction sequence. I’ll tell you a little story. Initially, the big jacket was a quarter-mile long, and they had four stiff-legged derrick crane platforms they were going to put on top of it to service, install and brace it. One of the first things I did when I got there, I said, “Tell me how you plan on building it,” because they had this model, color-coded model. I made them sit down and tell me how they were going to build it, and I was listening and watching them, and I said, “Something ain’t right.” So I took all the drawings, I took what I learned, and I went back to Louisiana to my buddy, a guy named C.J. Custan [phonetic], and we sat down. He was one of the guys that helped them when they were bidding them. I said, “C.J., they’re telling me this is how they going to build it. I think that’s wrong.” He said, “That ain’t what I told them.” [laughs] So I went back and I said, “This is not the way you’re going to do it.” And then when I started changing stuff. I eliminated all the work for two of these platforms, and that was like a two-million-dollar cut. JT: So you would just move them from here to here when they got— HHA# 01023 Page 27 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 27 Houston History Archives MR: Well, we got rid of all the air work. They were planning on putting a lot more braces up, stick building versus hanging them off of the work, and what we called loading up a bent and picking it up. I eliminated them. In fact, we could have eliminated almost all of them. JT: Was this thing built in sections and on its side and then you flipped it? MR: I forget how many. It was at least fourteen what we call main components of this structure; substantial structures. JT: You rolled it together to where the actual platform [unclear]. MR: Yeah. I can get you pictures of it all, of how it was done. But from here to here, this was 450 feet. That’s a ten- or twelve-storey building, huge, and this was a quarter-mile long. It weighed 50,000 tons, and then it had the support. This was a cantilever from here to here. I think this is plus-12 elevation, and this is minus-375. This cantilever weighed about 12,000 tons, so the foundation you needed under this. A load out of this thing was very, very tricky. JT: Did you have to lay extra foundation? MR: Well, yeah, and this foundation was real substantial. JT: Is that concrete? MR: Concrete pile, [unclear] and all that stuff. But the structure was so long, this was almost 400 feet long right here. When you started skidding out, when you wanted to transfer the load from the bank to the barge, you had to keep the barge and the elevation of the skid between the skid. The barge couldn’t change very much till you got a substantial portion of this jacket onto the barge so you didn’t break the barge or the structure or fail your foundations on the bank. Some fancy-nancy engineering went into this load-out. JT: Who was involved in that? MR: That was us. Our people did the load-out engineering, and Shell checked us, obviously. It was a really critical load-out. JT: What about the launch? Was it easier, just dumping it over the side? MR: Launch was kind of typical. Once you put it in the water, it’s floating and it’s pretty straightforward. JT: And that went out in ’89? HHA# 01023 Page 28 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 28 Houston History Archives MR: We launched in May of ’88. I know it because the day of launch was my oldest son’s high school graduation. I had a plane on charter waiting for me on the beach in Louisiana so I could fly back for it, because it was supposed to launch at noon on. I think it was May 31, whatever the day my son’s graduation was. But I had to go out and I had the chairman of Kiewit and his entourage to take out there to witness the launch, because it was a big deal. JT: In a helicopter or boat? MR: Yeah, in helicopters. JT: You say you had a plane on a beach. What beach? MR: Not a beach. I had a plane waiting for me at Lakefront Airport to take me back to Corpus. That’s what I meant, but it’s figurative. In that group I had a guy like Warren Buffett, so I had to plan all the logistics for those guys to go offshore. I had to explain to them, “you might have to spend the night offshore,” and none of them wanted to spend the night offshore. As it happened, the launch was delayed, and at that time the policy was the helicopters couldn’t fly at night, so I had to get all that whole entourage on their helicopters. Only one helicopter got to see the launch, and the helicopter I was on didn’t. Then I ended up getting back to the beach at dark, and I didn’t get home till midnight. I missed my oldest son’s high school graduation. But that’s kind of the way it was back then. It’s a different society now. My job was to do my job, and my wife had to be taken care of my family. JT: How many kids do you have? MR: Three. JT: I take it most of them were born in Corpus? MR: No, no. The baby, our baby, was two years old when we moved to Corpus, so that’s where he was raised. Eric, my oldest son, it going to be forty, I believe, and my middle daughter is thirty-six, thirty-seven, and then William is twenty-six. JT: Once Bullwinkle was sent off at the end of ’88, ’89, what did you do? I hope you took a little vacation or something. MR: We went right into building Conoco. If you remember, one of the things we had told Shell was that we could finish Bullwinkle six months early, so we really had to slow down to keep people on the payroll and stay in business. For the last six HHA# 01023 Page 29 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 29 Houston History Archives months of the job, we were working forty hours. We needed to keep enough people around to load the thing out and to tie it down and try to find new work. That was the time when the market was looking so bleak; I remember I had to go to a board meeting in April. We loaded out Bullwinkle in May, and in April I had to go to a board meeting to decide whether we’d stay in business or not, because there was nothing pretty about the first three years. That’s a whole separate issue I could get into about running off all the management of the old yard when I took over. Anyway, the market was bad. JT: There was just not enough work. MR: Yeah, there was not much work. JT: Did you guys get the feeling from the three or four platforms that you built, that this was something that was going to be short-lived or something that was going to last? MR: No, Kiewit don’t do short-term work. When Kiewit decided to get into this kind of business, they saw it as a long-term business. The problem was that we were most probably ten years out of whack. Bullwinkle was a great opportunity to get into the business, but there was a little bit of a gap. At least it looked like at that time, because the economy was so bad. Anyway, we ended up landing the Conoco CCP jacket and the Marquette-Joliet platform. We did the two topsides, we did the two jackets, and we did all the tendons for the Joliet TLP at our yard, and that kept us alive. Then from that, we started doing work for BP. We did the last topsides for California, for Exxon, Harmony and Heritage. We built those topsides in Corpus, shipped them through the Panama Canal and did the hookups. That was in ’89 and ’90. We did all over a thousand round-trip flights from Corpus Christi to Santa Barbara. We used our own people to hook up and commission Harmony and Heritage. JT: Were those tension-leg? MR: No, those were jackets built in Korea. Harmony and Heritage were like 1100- or 1200-foot jackets built in Korea, and we built the topsides. In fact, that was a crossover project from Gulf Marine to Aker Gulf Marine. Gulf Marine Fabricators had to subcontract Aker Gulf Marine to finish. That was the idea because Aker wouldn’t take any risk in that contract, so Gulf Marine held the risk in it, which was a good thing for Gulf Marine. It worked out really well. That was a transition project. That’s the kind of work we had going on in the yard. I think we had Mississippi Canyon 109 for BP going on. That was 1000- or 1100-foot jacket. Then we did a compliant tower for Hess and we did a mahogany HHA# 01023 Page 30 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 30 Houston History Archives platform for Phillips. That’s the first job we ever got that was awarded to us based on our safety performance, not on cost. JT: Really? MR: Yeah. JT: Is that in the Gulf? MR: Yeah, in the Gulf. That’s one thing; our safety performance in our yard has always been first in class. Our recordable frequencies are always the lowest in our SIC code. We’re an OSHA star worksite, which is the highest recognition you can get in OSHA in their voluntary protection program. We had it there, and we got it here. JT: Is that just from experience or did you guys take the initiative? MR: It’s the Kiewit culture. Mr. Kiewit started a safety culture back in the thirties, he was way ahead of his game in a lot of things. I can show you a picture of him and his brother standing in front of the sign that says, “You can overdo most anything but safety.” This is in the thirties. JT: So an employee becomes a part of that and it’s on their mind every day. MR: You got to make it part of your culture, and I think we were pretty successful in establishing a good loyalty base. I think if you check around, the reputation that Kiewit has in this business is pretty good. JT: Do you hold safety meetings every morning? MR: Almost. It’s a program we got in the whole culture. That would be a separate topic. JT: That’s what ran me out of the Port of Iberia, the eight-inch grinders. MR: Yeah, grinders are dangerous if you don’t handle them right. JT: Let me move on to specific questions that some of my other colleagues have. Let’s see if you can answer them. About Baker, I’ll save that for Larry. One of the set of questions will have to do with some of the other industries that are along shore and we don’t have anyone on the ground who can speak about. I’ll just call out a couple of names and you tell me if you know anything about their current status and maybe a little bit about their work done there. Zapata Marine Services. MR: Don’t know anything about them. HHA# 01023 Page 31 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 31 Houston History Archives JT: They acquired Jackson Marine in 1979. MR: Jackson Marine was a boat company, I think. JT: They were a little small boat rental company. MR: Yeah. JT: Somewhere in Corpus. What do you know about Harbor Island? That’s going to be a case study project. MR: What I know about Harbor Island is that they couldn’t get Brown & Root’s assembly yard for jackets out of Greens Bayou. That’s where the history starts. I think the biggest project that Brown & Root built in that yard was that Exxon Lena guide tower. My understanding is that Brown & Root’s fabrication unit was the feedstock; where they made their money was offshore with their barges and all. They built all the parts and pieces in Greens Bayou, shipped them to Harbor Island and assembled the structures there. In fact, when I moved to the Corpus area, they were building their last structure in Harbor Island. I got to sneak into the yard to see it, I looked at what they were doing, and I could kind of see why they couldn’t compete with the likes of McDermott. It looked to me like they just didn’t know how to put stuff together. So they never had a whole lot of commitment, and I could see it kind of from the craft. The Brown & Root trained craft were trained a different way. In our eyes, the way they train their fitters, we would call them putters. They weren’t fitters; they were putters. And the welders did all the work of fitting with gouging torches and things like that. We never did that kind of stuff. They had a whole different philosophy on putting. It looked to me like Brown & Root’s assembly yard was a stepchild business. JT: Was it because their big money was in pipelining and offshore explorations? MR: And offshore, yeah. That’s what it seemed like to me. I could be wrong. JT: And if you look at their history, they were much more of a general contractor building bridges, big buildings. MR: They didn’t pay any attention to fabrication like McDermott did. JT: Which started off as a platform builder. MR: McDermott had the best craft in the world at one point in time. I mean, that’s why the nucleus of the communities where I grew up there. I guess I’m HHA# 01023 Page 32 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 32 Houston History Archives prejudiced a little bit, but we had some smart Cajuns who knew how to handle big steel, and that was unique to South Louisiana. The tubular steel construction was unique to the offshore market. JT: Because no one else in Texas, except maybe, well, even Livingston. MR: Shipbuilding is a little different. Shipbuilding is lower-quality work, for the most part, because if you sent a ship offshore, it can come back to dry dock and get fixed. Offshore platforms can’t, so the specs are different, the quality levels are different, the plate versus pipe is different, all that stuff is different. JT: No one was building jackets in Texas. MR: No, basically just Brown & Root. JT: The Harbor Island, was it just vacant at the time? MR: Harbor Island was only an assembly yard, it had very little infrastructure to be a fab yard. You had to show up all your parts and pieces to put it together. JT: So when Brown & Root bought it, it was already an existing assembly yard? MR: No, Brown & Root put it in from scratch, as I understand. JT: 1975 is the date that we have. MR: That would be when they built Lena. They also built another jacket for Exxon at the same time we were doing Cognac; I think it was about a 600- or 700-foot jacket. JT: Chevron’s Garden Banks might have been the smaller jacket. MR: I believe one of the last jackets they build in that yard was the one they built for Chevron jacket. It’s a bad location; that is a hard place to run as a fab yard, especially if you’ve got these yards here. Getting your labor out there is difficult. JT: Is that a road to get here? MR: Yeah, there’s a road. You can go to work here, here, here or there. There’s no population base right here, you know? The population base is all this way and this way. So it’s kind of like this is your shortstop here. Now, when they were the only show in town, I guess it didn’t matter, but when Baker Marine showed up, they got the leftovers, and that’s kind of the way they treated that business. It was on again, off again. It was never like a McDermott permanent manufacturing thing. HHA# 01023 Page 33 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 33 Houston History Archives We looked at this property after it became vacant from Brown & Root, before McDermott bought it. I forget when McDermott bought it, but I think buying that land was a mistake. They never succeeded in that yard, because they never could get enough quality people to put in that yard. Everything they’ve had has been a fiasco. They may have approached it as a general contractor, but I don’t think you can approach this business that way. JT: Is it possible that they bought it to keep it out of the hands of someone else? MR: McDermott? Yea, that could have been. JT: I mean, because for a big deepwater assembly, you’ve got this yard on the west Gulf of Mexico, where you guys can assemble and build big stuff, but as far as putting together real big equipment, this is probably the only place that it on the west side of the Gulf you can do that, wouldn’t you think? MR: Right here. JT: And you guys. MR: Our place and this place, a little bit, but this is the best place right here. It’s way better suited, and you’ve got 100 percent of the ship channel traffic through here, and 100 percent of the intracoastal traffic going by here. We’ve got 5 percent, and what’s different about this land, if you drew a bigger scale of this property. I’m getting into a different subject, but we were on Harbor Island. This is way better suited. All our marine operations are done outside the channel on private property here in KOS. This you’ve got to shut down. Here you have to shut down the intracoastal and the ship channel. JT: And you guys come out this way? MR: Yeah, we come out this way. You can’t undervalue labor issues. This is a bigger labor issue than it is a property issue. Getting the right labor has always been a big issue, because it’s easier for us here than it is over there. JT: Now, you’re one of the Cajuns from Thibodaux that moved on out to Corpus Christi. Are there others from Louisiana that expanded, to your knowledge, further west and even further east? One of the things that we’re looking at is how the industry expanded from Louisiana out, going east and west, whether it be a structural engineer, chief engineer, or top fitter. MR: One watershed event, if you want to call it that way, was that somewhere in the ’71 to ’74 range, there was a big Justice Department investigation on price fixing, HHA# 01023 Page 34 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 34 Houston History Archives and it involved McDermott, Brown & Root, and I think Tenneco and M_____ [unclear]. Are you familiar with that? JT: Yes, sir. MR: Up until that time, there were only two places. There was McDermott for the big fab and install. There was Brown & Root for the big fab and install. Then you had Avondale Bayou Black. Avondale Shipyard is on the river, but then you have Avondale Bayou Black. And these guys got all the leftovers. They got the people. Looking back on it, what I can say, this is my opinion, the only work they really did in Avondale’s yard was usually Amoco and Chevron work, which is something we hardly ever did here. We used to bid Chevron work not to get it. But, anyway, Brown and McDermott could pretty much get anything they wanted, because they had marine capabilities. They used to make deals where “We won’t install it, we won’t build it.” There were times when we were selling slots, we were so busy. When the backlog was so strong in the early seventies, people would have to buys slots. JT: To get in line? MR: To get in line. They’d buy a window of time for eleven jackets. We did that at Gulf Marine for a couple times, sold slots, when the market tightens up. But when this price-fixing thing hit, I think one guy from Tenneco committed suicide, and there was a bunch of people from Brown & Root and McDermott ended up getting fined and all this other stuff. Then that opened up a whole bunch of new businesses. That’s when the people like Petrol Marine and Gulf Island and a bunch of little fabricators opened up, and a bunch of engineering companies opened up. Before then, you didn’t see many offshore engineers other than McDermott and Brown & Root, and that opened up the whole Gulf of Mexico, and that’s when people started having yards everywhere. JT: Really? That’s interesting. MR: Yes. You go back and trace it; I think you’ll find that was a significant event in the terms of opening up opportunities. Uni-Fab and all those other places, they didn’t exist before that. Or maybe if they existed, it was in a very small way. JT: I’m going to read this question to you, and this is pertaining to expanding to areas other than Amelia, Morgan City. MR: You know the Cajun from South Louisiana all went to the North Sea. That’s pretty well documented, and to the Far East and the Middle East and West Africa. JT: One of the questions that someone’s asking of you, and this is pertaining to you and some of the other engineers who worked down there. Were you guys looking HHA# 01023 Page 35 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 35 Houston History Archives particularly at infrastructure-based issues in locating and diversifying to new areas, specifically for the growing deepwater? MR: Us personally? Most of the Cajuns, me and the others that I recruited didn’t want to come to Texas. We wanted to stay in Louisiana. I thought I would be born, raised, and died there. It was hard as hell getting them to move to Texas. Kiewit was the one that decided to serve the offshore market. They needed a place, and fate put them together with the OTPM facility. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you want to play in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, you got to be on the water, and you got to have some kind of access to the Gulf of Mexico right from wherever on land you are. So the geography of the Gulf and the way it’s made up, and the political realm, restricts you from Mobile to Brownsville. In fact, as KOS, when we sold to Aker, we did that kind of case study. Where’s the best place in the whole United States to service the offshore? JT: And you chose that. MR: And we chose that piece of property. JT: La Quinta. MR: La Quinta Channel. We had access. We looked at every piece of land on the Gulf. We thought about California, we thought about the East Coast, we thought about all those things, but when you melt it all down, the Gulf of Mexico came down to Brownsville or the piece of property we took. JT: There’s nothing left in Louisiana? MR: Harbor Island. Well, Louisiana doesn’t have deepwater. Mississippi River is deepwater. There’s not a lot of property on the Mississippi River with the levee systems and all that. And like I say, for most Cajuns, the kind of people we needed in our business, we didn’t recruit a lot of engineers. We have a few engineers that we recruited from South Louisiana, but they weren’t as hard to move because of the craft. I was pretty hard to move, I thought. I didn’t want to move. JT: Did you have guys that would come and work on Bullwinkle and then want to get back home and stay? MR: Oh, we lost some that we recruited. They didn’t stay. Larry retired as quick as he could. He moved back to Louisiana. [laughs] JT: Larry— HHA# 01023 Page 36 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 36 Houston History Archives MR: Larry Revere. JT: So how many of us are down there now since the eighties, since the three or four companies were building the deepwater stuff? MR: We still have some of the original guys. JT: You got restaurants or— MR: Yeah, there’s a few Cajuns sprinkled into Corpus Christi that I’ve run into. Some of them, for example, OxyChem on the river, will transfer people between their plants. There’s a guy I met when I first moved to Corpus Christi, named Frank Lacasio [phonetic]; he was raised in Napoleonville. They lived in the same subdivision I lived in in Thibodaux. I never saw him because he went to Taft and I went to Morgan City. We left in the dark and came home in the dark, but my kids would play with his kids and we were neighbors. There are those kinds of people that get moved around with the big industries like refineries and petrochemical plants. There were exploration people from South Louisiana that get there some kind of way. I don’t know if I answered that question or not, but in the offshore construction business, the geography and the land and the water tell you where to be. JT: A couple more questions from someone else. There seems to be some evidence that perhaps McDermott is still holding on to the Harbor Island really for strategic purposes so as not to allow others to come in. MR: I thought they might have sold it to a developer or someone. I don’t know. Did they? JT: But they haven’t built anything in there probably since the eighties. MR: No, they built something there. The last things they built there were for Murphy. They built the topsides for one of Murphy Medusa’s spars. What was the other one? Mad Dog something. They built two topsides; they were both bad experiences for them, for what I understand. They haven’t built anything since. JT: So it may just be vacant. MR: It’s vacant and they may have sold it. JT: This is a question that’s much broader, I guess. It’s about Edison Chouest buying up the big Tampa yard as a similar threat tactic to get the Houma folks to offer them better incentives to push for work in the Houma yard. Would you be aware of anything on that? HHA# 01023 Page 37 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 37 Houston History Archives MR: Most businesspeople don’t make bad business decisions. I don’t think that would be their prime driver. We don’t certainly do those kinds of things, and I think good level-headed business people like them don’t do that. I mean, Chouest are pretty damn good businesspeople. There’s probably something strategic about a shipyard over there that they don’t have. It’s either some kind of labor issue or some more capacity. It’s the same thing, labor and capacity. I doubt if it’s driven to extort a better deal from somebody. JT: You’ve got potentially the east Gulf of Mexico opening up. MR: You’ve got the east Gulf, you’ve got the East Coast. Tampa’s always had shipyards and it’s most probably an opportunity to pick it up cheap right now, too. I tell you, I would think the industries in South Louisiana had so much clout that the government understands and they work. That’s one thing in South Louisiana is that their industry gets paid closer attention as an asset than maybe in Texas. JT: Tell me more about that. MR: Texas is more diversified and a bigger economy, I think, than Louisiana. As an offshore fabricator, we were a pimple on what goes on in Texas, so going to Austin to get something done for us was a little different than a McDermott or Chouest or Bollinger going to Bobby Jindal or the Louisiana governor. They have a lot of clout; they’ve always been strong politically, and I think in the right way. We prospered in the Gulf in South Louisiana because of our ability to do business with quiet pleasure, I guess. They stay out your way and let you get things done. In my early days here, it was always a battle. Some of the jobs were battles, Texas against Louisiana. I specifically remember one we lost because we weren’t in Louisiana; we were in Texas. It was a topside job. We lost it because you had Bennett Johnson Breaux. The political winds in Louisiana favor industries tremendously, I think, so I’d say that doesn’t have a whole lot of merit. JT: Let me ask you just a couple of questions from Jamie. She’s actually the one I told you about, she’s going to be working on this report. These are very broad in context. We’re also trying to tie in this project on the Gulf of Mexico to a much broader global and international context. How has the industry become much more international? Much of the work is now overseas to build the big ships, etc. MR: In Corpus we just picked up a big platform to build for Spain. We’re going to build it in Corpus and ship it to Spain. JT: Really? MR: Yeah. HHA# 01023 Page 38 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 38 Houston History Archives JT: It’s coming back around again. MR: Yeah, a little bit. We built stuff and shipped it. We bid stuff to ship to Africa. Yeah, it’s coming around a little bit. The dollar value right now, the exchange, the Euro, the dollar is a big chunk of it. But go ahead. JT: One of the key issues in launching this project, for me anyway, is knowing what happened to the shipbuilding and the fabrication, the large quantities that went overseas. MR: Ships-wise, the best shipyards in the world are in the Far East. JT: They are now, but they used to be in the U.S. MR: Well, we were only good at building ships during the wars. When World War II ended, the shipbuilding industry ended, and you had the Jones Act business, and manning up U.S. flagships is expensive. People now get their ships built somewhere else and they crew them up with foreigners. JT: Because it’s much cheaper. MR: Yeah, and I think it’s economics. The majority of the shipyards here are defense contractors. JT: And the offshore services. MR: And offshore service boats, yeah. But, I mean, if you want to talk about the megaships, I’ve been to the Hyundai shipyard in Korea. They produce like seventy-two ships a year, and these ain’t little ships. That’s more than one a week. When you go see the size of these puppies, they build everything from womb to tomb. They build the engine blocks, they do everything, and they put the whole ship together. It’s like selling a Taurus. When you go to a Korean shipyard, you say, “I want this model ship,” or, “I want this much displacement,” and they make you one, and they make it fast. JT: Where do you see most of the U.S. fabrication? Is it still Gulf of Mexico? Is it still Louisiana and some Texas? MR: Yeah, but the deepwaters, the trends are different. We just sent one to the southwestern part of the Gulf, to Perdido; they just started to do stuff there. The big oil finds are mostly with Thunder Horse and that area of the Gulf, the Mars Basin. I don’t know when they’ll move further west, but sooner or later they will. The western Gulf is more gas than oil, so that has something to do with it. HHA# 01023 Page 39 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 39 Houston History Archives JT: Now, what about places like Spain and Italy that have historically been building a lot of the big TLP? Is that where the industry is going to stay as the deepwater continues? MR: Hull-wise, right now we could build a hull in the U.S., but the problem is that the economics for hulls haven’t been with us. We’ve bid a few of them over the years but the Koreans and then soon the Chinese and the Singaporeans are the real hull people. I don’t know how much of an artificial economy are the spars with the Finnish and the Norwegians. It’s hard to believe that they can build them without a loss, except that they own the technology and they have some clout in that. Right? So I think that there may have been a little artificial economics in the hulls being built in Finland, but Korea and Singapore and China are real economics. They build them cheaper than anybody else, and the oil companies are willing to put up with building them over there. The topsides, we have a little bit. As long as the production equipment and a lot of the big equipment come from the U.S., that gives us some help because the equipment is already here. We do a good job on topsides for the big things. JT: Let me jump down to our list and then we’ll wrap it up here and get you back on the road. I found somewhere that Gulf Marine had bought a Chicago Bridge & Iron yard. MR: That’s the same property. That’s Bullwinkle. JT: Okay, that’s the Bullwinkle. MR: Baker, I believe, leased to Chicago Bridge & Iron. They built a few Chevron jackets there. They were some mudslide jackets, I believe. They built all the parts and pieces in Tennessee, I think, and shipped them; then there was just a short-time lease, like a general contractor would get a piece of property. That was the same way we built Bullwinkle. JT: Is that yard now vacant or are you all still using it? MR: That’s Gulf Marine. JT: Gulf Island. MR: Gulf Island owns it. They call themselves Gulf Marine, but that’s Gulf Island. They own it. JT: I have them down here somewhere. Yeah, let’s get to Gulf Island. They came in 2005 or ‘2006 and bought the facilities here. HHA# 01023 Page 40 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 40 Houston History Archives MR: From Technip. JT: From Technip, which is this long list of— MR: Yes, it’s that progression. JT: They’re a Houma-based operation, right? MR: Right. Yeah, they went public. In fact, we looked at buying them about 1991, ’92. When we went to visit them, they were already on the road to go public, and when they were going public, the money was too big. JT: So they were just in Houma? MR: At the time, they were just in Houma, yeah. JT: Were they just a regular fabricator? MR: Yeah. That’s the old rim [phonetic]. If this is the Houma navigation canal, they got a yard here and they got a yard here. They call this the west yard, I think. This was the old Raymond Houma yard, this was the old Delta yard, so that makes up Gulf Marine. JT: Gulf Island. MR: Gulf Island in Houma, and I think they own a company called Dolphin Services. They also own Southport, which builds quarters. JT: So this is a Laborde? MR: “Doc” Laborde is the guy who invented the semi-submersible, the floating drilling. He was or is the majority shareholder in it. JT: Any idea how long Gulf Island has been around; probably not as along as McDermott? MR: No. When “Doc” Laborde bought Delta, it was back when the crash— JT: In ’82, ’86. MR: Somewhere. JT: It says here that they had three yards. There’s one, two, and they must have another. HHA# 01023 Page 41 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 41 Houston History Archives MR: They’ve got this, this, and they’ve got Houma; that’s three. JT: That would be three. MR: It’s one company. JT: I wanted to ask you about Thunder Horse and Independence Hub. MR: Independence Hub. Yeah, we built that topside for the Enterprise. We built the topside and integrated the topside onto the hull. JT: Now, to my understanding, Independence Hub is mainly a floating hub. MR: It’s a gas-gathering platform that Enterprise owns, and it takes in gas from several fields. I forget who the big partner in that is. JT: Apache, maybe? MR: Yeah, we built the topsides for that. There are several, but I think Anadarko’s got something going in there. It’s the biggest offshore gas processing facility in the Gulf, or maybe in the world. JT: So that was a new unique project? MR: It’s a big floater. It’s not unique anymore, it’s just big. [laughs] It’s a big gas gathering. It’s unique, I guess, in concept that an oil company doesn’t own it, a pipeline gathering company owns it. JT: And they have the partners at all the oilfields. MR: They process the gas for a bunch of different fields. JT: So you all just built it. MR: We built the topsides and then we shipped the hull in, and we integrated the hull and the topsides. I think that’s a 9000-ton topside. We picked it up and set it on top the hull. JT: We covered Harbor Island, Aker Gulf Marine. MR: We were partners with Aker Gulf Marine. When Gulf Marine became Aker Gulf Marine, we had to sell out of it. Kiewit sold out of Aker Gulf Marine, and then Aker sold to Stolt, and then Stolt told to Technip, and then Technip sold to Gulf Island. HHA# 01023 Page 42 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 42 Houston History Archives JT: So Aker is back in. MR: Yeah. We were basically Aker, if you think about it. JT: And Peter Kiewit, I know a little bit about him now. What about these other little yards? These are just questions from observations from some folks who went down there. Offshore Specialty Fab. MR: They’re in Houma, and they got a small, small place on the intracoastal. I don’t even know if they still do any work. JT: But nothing in the coastal bend area? MR: Yeah, they’re right on the ship shore. They had a little place like right here. I don’t know, five acres or so. JT: So maybe an engineering operation? MR: They do little bitty pissant stuff, little bitty stuff. JT: And Oceaneering is down there now. MR: Oceaneering is an inspection company. JT: Did they ever do inspection for you guys. Did they work with you? MR: Yes, they did. JT: Southern Steel. MR: They’re a steel supplier, or scrap. Southern Steel is scrap in Morgan City; they scrap boats and platforms. JT: What about Bay Limited? MR: Bay Limited is owned by Barry. They have a small fab yard in the inner harbor of the ship channel. They have a small fab yard, plus they’re more of a general contractor. They do a lot of refinery work. They have a small yard on Bayou Buff, right by the old bridge, across from McDermott. So they’re a small general contractor. I say small; they’re not that small. JT: Southland Fab. MR: Southland Fab. I’m not familiar with them. HHA# 01023 Page 43 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 43 Houston History Archives JT: Dugat, D-u-g-a-t. MR: They used to have a marina. This is Dugat right here. That was their property. They sold to State Services. JT: Because it says it’s a super-fine [phonetic] refinery. MR: Oh, that’s right here. There’s a little refinery right there. I don’t know if the Dugats had anything to do with it. I know the Dugats. JT: So maybe the super-fine. MR: There’s a little refinery right there. There’s an old refinery right here. JT: So they must have bought the super-fine. MR: They may have. JT: Is Dynamic down there? MR: Yeah, that’s Mike Marino, but they just showed up. Their main place is in New Iberia. They’re trying to be a sub to the big ones, like to us and McDermott. JT: Baker, Gulf Marine, Kiewit. Helix. MR: Helix just showed up. They bought seventy acres about right here for a spool base for their real barges, real ship, pipe laying. JT: It says that they mainly moved down here to get involved in pipeline repair because of all the hurricanes. MR: Yeah. They’re a pipeline company. They’re part of Cal Dive. Helix is Cal Dive. JT: Because it seems that one of the things, in talking with MMS people, is that there is a new industry that’s developing over the last years as far as decommissioning and repairing, and there’s a lot of new companies out there that do that. MR: You don’t call that new industry, though. JT: I mean, that’s coming from me. It’s always been around, but it seems to be much more important now. There seems to be a lot more companies involved because there’s a lot more work as far as decommissioning, repair. HHA# 01023 Page 44 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 44 Houston History Archives MR: When was Mars and Joliet? 1990, ’91, 2001, 2011, 2022 is when you’re probably going to say, what are we going to do with the floaters out there? 2022, I don’t know if I’ll be around. I mean, there’s no new industry here. JT: Unless we start putting windmills out there, huh? MR: Oh, well, that’s happening. That’s going to happen, but I don’t know how long that’s going to last. JT: What do you know about the foreign trade zone? MR: We have a foreign trade zone. It’s a tool to help American industry, to be more competitive by eliminating duties on exported goods. JT: Like steel? MR: Like steel. So if you take an offshore platform and it comes in and you bring it into a free trade zone, a foreign trade zone, you can do something with it. You can transform it into something else and make it duty-free, and then ship it out. And then you can we use that. We use it on a project-specific basis, so we activate our trade zone accordingly. It’s a good thing, I guess. JT: Do you think that was maybe one of the factors why Kiewit and them mover over here? MR: Not really. You can do a trade zone anywhere. JT: There’s probably not one in Southeast Texas or in Louisiana. MR: You can have one, though. It’s not an inanimate object. We’re inside the port of Corpus Christi, so if you’re inside the port of Houston, you can have a foreign trade zone. Port of New Orleans, you can have a trade zone. Port Iberia, you can have one. You can get one if you want. It’s not for us to make us compete against another American company; it’s to make us compete against foreign companies. JT: Wrapping up here, I think that’s going to be about it. Tell me a little about Larry Baker before I go and meet with him. He showed up on our radar when this ship fab project started. He was the first guy that was on the list for us to contact, and I’m glad you’re going to put me in touch with him. MR: Well, you’re going to like him. You won’t be able to tell sometime when he’s joking with you or not, but he knows the history of Baker Marine. His daddy was the founder. His his brother lives in Broussard, his daddy lives in—what’s south, just outside Lafayette? HHA# 01023 Page 45 of 45 Interviewee: Myron Rodrigue Interview: August 13, 2009 University of Houston 45 Houston History Archives JT: Maurice? MR: Yeah, Maurice. JT: Or Youngsville? MR: Yeah, that area. Larry will tell you. JT: So he’s Larry junior? MR: Yeah. JT: Is he about your age? MR: Yeah, he’s my age. You’ll like him. JT: I think that’s going to do it here. MR: Okay. Well, if you have any more questions, call me or shoot me an e-mail. JT: Yeah, I think that’s it. MR: I hope you can make something coherent out of this. JT: Charlie Co— MR: Colozi [phonetic]. JT: —Colozi. We missed him. MR: Yeah. I wish you could have talked to him. JT: Well, good, man. Let me turn this off and say thank you. MR: Okay. [End of interview]