Saipem was originally founded in 1957 as a service provider for the Eni group. It was founded through the merger of Snam Montaggi and a drilling contractor SAIP. In 1960s it started providing services outside the Eni group, and in 1969 it started operating autonomously. While initially Saipem specialized on onshore pipelaying, plant construction and drilling, in the early 1960s it commenced also offshore operations. Offshore operations started in the Mediterranean and were expanded to the North Sea in 1972.