Company History

Scientific Drilling International (SDI) is an independent service provider offering complete high accuracy navigation and drilling solution. SDI is globally positioned to support a wide range of markets including the Oil & Gas, unconventional resources, Geothermal, and Mining Industries.

SDI’s global footprint reaches over a dozen countries, and nearly fifty locations. The European and the Middle Eastern facilities are managed by SDI’s regional division, known as Scientific Drilling Controls Ltd (SDC). Applied Technologies Center (ATC), based in Paso Robles, CA is SDI’s research, development and manufacturing sister company.


Scientific Drilling Controls was founded in 1969 by James Murray, an engineer from California.

The company introduced the world’s first downhole electronic steering tool for wellbore navigation (“The Eye”). This tool was used by directional drillers to accurately orient downhole motors to deviate wellbores. From the success of the product, Scientific went on to expand throughout the United States, acquiring a survey company and opening both national and international locations. The formation of SDI’s Survey Division occurred in 1975, and in 1977, the world’s first surface readout gyro (SRG) tool was introduced. Expansion in both product and service range continued into the late 1970s and early 1980s, before SDC changed its name to Scientific Drilling International (SDI) and was sold to AMF.
In the 1980s, directional drilling and specialized memory production logging tools (the Seeker and the Finder) were introduced, prompting global expansion. SDI was acquired by the Van Steenwyk family in 1986 and continues to retain ownership to this day.

Under new ownership, SDI continued expanding its product offering when their Inertial Devices Division made history with the proprietary rate integrating gyro for downhole.

During the 1990s, SDI rapidly developed their product lines by introducing several new tools including:

  • Twin gyro continuous north seeking gyro (“the Keeper”)
  • Drop memory keeper gyros
  • Electromagnetic MWD E-field tool
  • MPLT memory logging system
  • Mud pulse MWD system.

By the year 2000 SDI introduced the world’s first gyroMWD, following this with the first Memory Pulsed Neutron Neutron/memory resistivity log in 2003. SDI rolled out its logging while drilling motor in 2006 and its EM gyroMWD in 2007. In the 2010, field trials of SDI’s SRX 740 rotary steerable system commenced and Mr. Bill Wade was named CEO.

SDI introduced the Falcon high speed mud pulse MWD in 2012, and had its first successful SRX 650 rotary steerable deployment in 2013. This was followed by the introduction of the gyroMWD module technology, Sci-Steer™ geosteering solution, and Sci-Quest™ next generation probe-based resistivity tool.

The culture of innovation and Industry First’s has established SDI as the leading independent provider of wellbore navigation and directional drilling services. The company’s range of products has greatly increased over recent years, due in part to continued focus on research and development.


Scientific Drilling’s, research, development and manufacturing organization, Applied Technologies Center (ATC), is located in Paso Robles on California’s Central Coast. Over twenty percent of SDI’s global workforce is based on this campus.

ATC maintains a strong focus on inertial, magnetic and gyro sensor technology and development.

SDI is the only company in the wellbore navigation/directional drilling business that builds all systems in-house, down to the sensor level.


Below is a list of the major technology innovations and development Scientific Drilling has made to date.

  • 2013 – Introduction of the Vulcan™ MFT 24 (AFTAT)
  • 2013 – Introduction of the Falcon High Speed Mud-Pulse MWD Technology
  • 2010 – Introduction of the SRX 740 – Rotary Steerable System
  • 2009 – Upgraded the Sci-Driver™ to offer azimuthal, gamma ray capabilities enabling geosteering.
  • 2007 – Introduction of the EM gyroMWD
  • 2006 – Introduction of Sci-Driver™ – Near Bit Smart Motor
  • 2006 – Introduction the Gain (Extended near top of Motor – Gamma & Inclination) MWD/LWD sub capability
  • 2002 – The gyroMWD set their first Whipstock set operation with gyro MWD technology
  • 2002 – Introduction of the first high accuracy all attitude drop Keeper Gyro tool
  • 2000 – Introduction of the Memory Pulsed Neutron tool (MPNN) Logging technology
  • 2000 – Introduced First Gyro MWD gMWD
  • 1999 – Introduction of the Mud Pulse MWD technology
  • 1997 – Introduction of the EM-MWD E-Field technology
  • 1997 – Introduction of the Drop memory Keeper Gyro
  • 1997 – Introduction of the High Temperature MPLT Memory Logging Tool
  • 1996 – Introduction of the Memory Keeper Gyro
  • 1995 – Introduction of Industry’s first steering + Gamma Ray technology; ROP and vibration sensors for coiled tubing drilling
  • 1995 – Introduction of the Industry’s first twin gyro continuous all-attitude North Seeking Gyro
  • 1994 – Introduction of the Industry’s first 1.75” O.D. – Attitude Referencing Gyro
  • 1992 – Introduction of the Industry’s first miniature EMS/Steering Tool
  • 1990 – Introduction of the Industry’s first computer-automated correction algorithm for magnetic interference
  • 1989 – Introduction of Industry’s first complex designer well planner software (Compass)
  • 1987 – Introduction of the Industry’s first gyro steering tool
  • 1985 – Introduction of The Finder – Industry’s first continuous North Seeking Gyro
  • 1977 – Introduction of the Industry’s first surface readout gyro (SRG)
  • 1969 – Introduction of The Eye – Industry’s first magnetic steering tool