Pulling Oil From Davy Jones' Locker

The Gulf of Mexico was entering its heyday as an oil-producing region when Emmett M. Richardson joined Mobil Corp. 25 years ago. He helped pioneer the idea of putting production equipment on the sea floor rather than atop costly offshore steel platforms. But before the concept sank roots in the Gulf, Richardson was off to projects in the North Sea, where his work flourished. Today, the 53-year-old head of subsea research and engineering operations for Mobil is back in the U.S., convinced that offshore oil platforms--those spindly skyscrapers of the sea--are destined to play only supporting roles in the oil industry's future.

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