More than 4,500 offshore petroleum platforms supply 25 percent of the United States’ production of natural gas and 10 percent of its oil. Thanks to a program begun two decades ago, today’s offshore production benefits both the economy and the environment.
Rigs to Reefs is a program in which offshore structures that are no longer producing remain in the marine environment. Today, they form the world’s largest artificial reef complex.
This is a Gulf of Mexico success story, notes an article in Ocean Science, the Minerals Management Service quarterly magazine. Rigs to Reefs is a program in which offshore structures that are no longer producing remain in the marine environment. Today, they form the world’s largest artificial reef complex.
Offshore platforms are a good choice for artificial reefs. Their size and open design attract fish — and divers — where they can swim easily through the circulating water.
Although Rigs to Reefs developed as an official policy in the mid-1980s, the concept was first explored in 1979. The National Artificial Reef Plan paved the way for government-endorsed artificial reef projects.
The first planned conversion took place in 1979 with the re-location of an Exxon experimental subsea structure from offshore Louisiana to an artificial reef site off Apalachicola, Florida.
In 1984, the National Fishing Enhancement Act established national artificial reef standards.
MMS then developed policies encouraging the reuse of obsolete offshore petroleum structures – requiring compliance with standards of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the criteria in the National Artificial Reef Plan of 1985, which allowed states to plan, construct, and manage artificial reefs. Read the rest of this entry »