In December of 1954, R.G. LeTourneau, George H.W. Bush, and R.L. LeTourneau met to go over plans for the late President’s first offshore oil platform (image below). In 1954, President Bush ran Zapata Offshore Co. from 1954-1966. He bought one of R.G. LeTourneau’s first offshore oil barges.

Pictured left to right: R.G. LeTourneau, George H.W. Bush, and R.L. (Dick) LeTourneau

When R.G. LeTourneau approached Zapata Offshore Co. about purchasing a barge, Bush was hesitant. After some back and forth, R.G. proposed a low risk scenario to Bush. Considering that the platform was R.G.’s first platform sale, he made an offer that Bush could not refuse. R.G. told Bush that he would build the platform and have it towed out to a location of his choice at no cost to Zapata Offshore Co. If the platform did not function as desired, R.G. would tow it back and Zapata Offshore Co. would not be out a dime. If the barge performed as expected, Zapata would then be obligated to purchase the rig – nearly $3 million). Bush accepted.

SCOPE, December 30, 1955

After R.G. built and towed the platform out to a location, the platform did not deliver. R.G. hurried out to the platform and took out his soap stone, marking up a few locations on the platform. Welders came out and followed R.G.’s marks and repair instructions. After the corrections, R.G.’s platform operated as intended. On March 20, 1956, drill barge SCORPION was open for inspection and commissioning at Pier 12 in Galveston.

Dale Hardy provided the background story for this article.