2004 Industry Pioneers


Robert Palmer ImageRobert Palmer

Bob Palmer has been a in the offshore drilling industry and has spent considerable time and resources meeting and discussing with government officials at the State and Federal levels on the importance of our industry. Until his retirement he chaired Rowan Companies who was one of the key companies in jackup rigs, diversified with an aviation company, and further stepped out into the rig manufacturing business with LeTourneau.

Bob is a graduate of Southern Methodist University starting at Rowan in 1953 and working his way up through the ranks. He became President of the Rowan Offshore Drilling Company in 1969. In August of that year Rowan ordered their first offshore rig, a jackup that went to work in Nicaragua for Shell in May 1970. Bob became CEO in 1972. He guided Rowan through its growth in the offshore drilling contracting business, diversified into aviation, and later into rig building through the acquisition of LeTourneau.  He was quick to emphasize safety with some of the early behavior-based programs.

Bob Palmer provided leadership in industry and government serving as President of IADC, Chairman of National Ocean Industries Association, Director of API, and a member of the National Petroleum Council. Bob’s 1982 election to be the President of IADC surely reflects the fact that he was recognized by his peers in the offshore drilling business as one of their earlier leaders.