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NEW YORK, July 8, 2003 -- As the first device used to effectively control pressure during drilling and oil production, the Cameron Ram-Type Blowout Preventer (BOP) will be designated as an historic mechanical engineering landmark by ASME International (The American Society of Mechanical Engineers). A ceremony commemorating the designation will be held July 14 at the Cameron Division Headquarters in Houston.
In the early days of oilfield operations, controlling underground pressure was a risky challenge. When oil was struck, workers would have to wait for the pressure to drop to a safe level before the well could be capped, or the flow redirected. Oil wells allowed to "blowout" naturally, with oil spewing into the air ("gushers"), proved both wasteful and in some cases deadly.
While several inventors unsuccessfully attempted to develop ways to control blowouts, it wasn't until 1922 when oil driller James Smither Abercrombie (1891-1975) took his idea of a ram-type blowout preventer to machinist Harry S. Cameron (1872-1928). On the sawdust floor of Cameron's machine shop in Humble, Texas, the two sketched out the details for the MO (mechanical operated) BOP, which was granted a patent in January 1926.
Although the concept of rams closing around the drill pipe is still used today, modern BOPs look very little like the original version. In the early 1980s, the original MO BOP was displayed at Smithsonian's energy center and has since been returned to Cameron headquarters in Houston, where it is on display.
To commemorate the landmark designation, Reginald I. Vachon, president of ASME International, will present a bronze landmark plaque to Sheldon R. Erikson, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of Cooper Cameron Corporation. The ceremony will begin at 4:00 p.m. in Room 180 at Cameron Division Headquarters, 4646 W. Sam Houston Parkway N., Houston.
Since its inception in 1972, ASME International's History and Heritage Program has designated 227 historical mechanical engineering landmarks, heritage collections or heritage sites. Each selection represents contributions made by the technological advances of mechanical engineering and their impact on the quality of life.
Cameron, a division of Cooper Cameron Corporation, is a manufacturer of drilling and production equipment, valves and related products. Product lines include Cameron®,
W-K-M®, DEMCO®, McEvoy®, Willis®, Foster®, Orbit® and Thornhill Craver™. Cameron has manufacturing facilities worldwide. Cooper Cameron is also a leading international manufacturer of centrifugal air compressors, integral and separable gas compressors and turbochargers.
ASME International is a 120,000-member organization focused on technical, educational and research issues. ASME conducts one of the world's largest technical publishing operations, holds numerous technical conferences worldwide, and offers hundreds of professional development courses each year. ASME sets internationally recognized industrial and manufacturing codes and standards that enhance public welfare and safety.
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