Seacore Ltd – from Gweek Quay to Far-off Seas

Thursday 29th January 2009

The boardroom at Fugro Seacore in Falmouth was packed as 40 members squeezed in to hear John Gleadowe’s re-scheduled talk. Seacore began in 1976 as the concept of two CSM mining engineers to develop underwater drilling equipment for tin exploration off the north Cornish coast. A prototype was tested in a creek in Zambia.

However, the original tension leg design was replaced by a jack-up rig and the company gained its first contract, drilling in the Shetlands. Success led to more contracts and Seacore grew steadily, building up a reputation for innovative solutions and its ability to deliver results on time. To amusement, John said that in the early stages there was an element of “scrap heap challenge” as the company designed and constructed rigs to fit on a variety of vessels. But the experience helped towards developing modular rigs in which the components could be packed as, or into, containers and hence transported anywhere in the world. With all activities on one site – design, manufacture and drill operatives – there was rapid feedback when equipment needed modifying.

The work became increasingly varied. Geological and geotechnical investigations, foundations for bridges, offshore wind farms, nuclear coolant outfall and sampling underwater ‘black smokers’ have been among the contracts. The sites, near-shore and offshore, have literally been worldwide, from both poles to the equator. Seacore now owns a range of jack-up platforms and barges, including walking rigs, plus large diameter drills capable of drilling up to 7m diameter holes and marine drills that can be mounted on sea-going vessels that are dynamically positioned via GPS. With a staff of some 250, of whom 25% have 15 or more years of experience, the company is one of the world leaders in marine drilling and has built an enviable and justified reputation for inventive and speedy operation and successful results. About 3 years ago it was taken over by Fugro, the Dutch drilling conglomerate.

John’s talk was followed by refreshments and then a tour of the workshops, where all were impressed by the welded heavy steel frames in course of construction.

This evening will long be remembered, an excellent, highly informative and well-illustrated talk plus the bonus of a workshop visit. The HMCG is extremely grateful to John Gleadowe and Fugro Seacore for giving us this wonderful opportunity.

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