From Oil Rigs to Reefs

Decommissioned oil rigs look dull and lifeless as you drive by them or look at them from afar. Below is another story. There’s teeming life. There are 12,000 oil rigs worldwide, and at some point they stop being useful to the oil companies, too costly to maintain. Removing them is expensive as well as labor intensive and leaving them as they are can be dangerous to marine life. But as of 1984  with the US  Congress National Fishing  Enhancement Act  the benefits of artificial reefs have been recognized. The Gulf states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and Texas have converted some 500 rigs into reefs. In time the substructure rigs provide  the skeleton for coral reefs. They become nurseries for certain species, and can be bountiful human made marine habitats for colorful fishes, crabs, starfish and mussels to congregate there. Sometimes they can be more protected from predators than they would be in  other parts of the ocean.  Converting platforms into reefs is an attractive options for oil and gas companies which can save them millions of dollars. Campaigners for decommissioning the rigs say that it is a win/win situation for those companies. They are allowed to spend half their savings for the state artificial reef program to maintain the platforms, marine conservation and education. In some areas in the Gulf of Mexico, the abundant marine life there have made them hot spots for diving, snorkeling and recreational fishing. As the world moves away from fossil fuels,  a  viable solution for decommissioned rigs needs to be found. I  for one like the reefing one because it takes something that has been harmful to the environment and redeems it to be helpful.

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