Rowan Companies Company History Timeline


1923: Charlie Rowan buys first drilling rig.


Since 1924, Rowan has been a leader in the industry and has strengthened its position consistently through decades of work in the oil fields.


The event launched Rowan's business and created an oil boom in the city of Wortham that continued until 1927.

1927: A second business, Rowan Oil Company, is incorporated to market Rowan Drilling's output.


Headquartered in Fort Worth, the company did not begin making money until 1928.


In 1933, Rowan Oil Company dissolved.


1935: Rowan Drilling buys first diesel electric rig.


Hamilton Rogers became president of Rowan Oil Company, and Gilbert Rowe, who had joined Rowan Drilling in 1944, assumed leadership of that company.


After the war was over in 1945, Rowan, as well as other oil drilling businesses, experienced difficulties.


In 1948, imported oil began to have an impact and exceeded domestic oil for the first time.

In 1948 Rowan Drilling Company split into two companies when Rowan Oil was resurrected.

1948: Company purchases its first airplane.


In 1951, Rowan began offering benefits to its employees as well as establishing a joint headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, for the two companies—Rowan Oil and Rowan Drilling.


Though marsh drilling in Louisiana had been successful, drilling in deep water was new to Rowan, and the company first attempted it in 1954 in the Gulf of Mexico.


The remaining company, Rowan Drilling, extended drilling operations into Mississippi in 1958.


In 1961, company founder Charlie Rowan died.


Tragedy followed in 1962 when Arch Rowan, Jr., died at the age of 32 as the result of burns received during an accidental fire at his home.


Rowan extended its drilling operations, continuing to add rigs, including one in Alaska in 1966.


The biggest change for the company occurred on September 6, 1967, when Rowan launched its initial public offering (IPO) of 323,000 shares.

As of September 30, 1967, Rowan had assets of $8.7 million.

1967: Rowan becomes a public company and purchases ERA Helicopters (renamed Era Aviation).


A second mobile drilling platform was built and began work in the Gulf of Mexico. Its first contract operation was located off the eastern coast of Nicaragua in 1970 for Shell.


1971: Rowan Drilling assumes its present-day name.


Also in 1973, Rowan purchased a second airline in Alaska—Merric, Inc.

Grapevine —Fifty Years of Growth, Houston: Rowan Companies, Inc., 1973.

Rowan's broadening market continued to expand as Rowan began drilling in the North Sea off the coast of Norway in 1973, with the company's first semi-submersible drilling rig.


In 1981, Rowan CEO Bob Palmer was named the top CEO in the offshore drilling industry by the Wall Street Transcript.


The new Gorilla rigs were performing well, but on December 8, 1988, Gorilla I, which was drilling in the North Sea, went down in a storm.


1993: Company purchases LaTourneau, Inc., a manufacturer of offshore drilling rigs.


By 1997, Rowan was reaping the benefits of its aggressive strategies as profits hit a record $147 million on $695 million in revenues.


2000: Company offers for sale 10.3 million shares of common stock.

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Rowan Companies is 100 years old.

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Rowan Companies may also be known as or be related to Rowan Companies, Rowan Companies Inc, Rowan Companies plc and Rowan Drilling Company, Inc.