A banner headline over a column in the December 2002 issue of Offshore Engineer caught my eye. Its analysis of a New Orleans conference on deep offshore technology included the telling phrase “missing from most deepwater technology solutions was operator commitment.” The author, Offshore Engineer's U.S. editor Rick von Flatern, used dual gradient drilling (DGD) as a specific example. He wrote that “[DGD], on which the industry had spent more than $100 million by early 2002 in three separate JIP's, had yet to gain a single commercial job.” He went on to say “operators were put off by factors...

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