There comes a time when the useful life of an oil platform comes to an end - at least when it comes to drilling for oil.
Rigs-to-Reefs (R2R) provides an alternative to complete rig removal in which an oil company chooses to modify a platform so that it can continue to support marine life as an artificial reef. Through this decommissioning process, the oil well is capped and the upper 85 feet of the platform is either towed, toppled in place, or removed. Not all platforms are suitable as reefing candidates, and in order for any platform to be considered for reefing, it must first undergo extensive ecological evaluations to assess any potential value it might add to the local ecosystem.
Oil rigs as an artificial reef, really?
Scientific studies have concluded that the underwater platform structures has the potential to support ecologically valuable ecosystems. The complete removal of these oil and gas platforms will unquestionably harm the animals and plants that call these structures home.
Costs of Rigs-to-Reefs?
R2R yields an economic benefit to both state and oil company stakeholders. The cost of implementing the R2R program is significantly less than the alternative of complete removal; resulting in potential cost savings in the millions.
What about liability?
Through the R2R process, the oil well is capped and the platform structure is modified at the expense of the oil company, so that is can continue to support marine life. The oil company then donates the underwater platform to the state to manage as an artificial reef, while retaining financial liability for the oil well should there be leakage.