Gulf of Mexico Platform Converted to Artificial Reef

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and BP announce the creation of a new artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 80 miles south of Morgan City, Louisiana. The department and BP developed this new site with the decommissioning and toppling of the Eugene Island 322 platform. That platform had reached the end of its service as a production facility and was to be removed.

The structure is the newest addition to the Louisiana Artificial Reef Program that creates reefing sites from offshore platforms that are taken out of service. The new reef structure lies in 230 feet of water, where it will provide a complete marine ecosystem and serve as an attractive spot for marine scientists, and for recreational diving and fishing.

LDWF Secretary Dwight Landreneau said that this is a win/win situation. "The state runs the program at no cost the taxpayers, BP saves money on removal costs, we maintain fishing and diving opportunities off our coast, but more importantly the fish maintain their habitat."

"We are appreciative of the state’s constructive engagement with the offshore industry," said BP Vice President Kent Wells. "The creation of artificial reef structures from decommissioned platforms creates real value for the state, for the industry and the recreational users of the Gulf of Mexico. The Eugene Island 322 reef project allowed us to recycle this large offshore structure to provide a great value to new categories of users."

In removing the structure, BP used a new environmentally benign process to sever the steel platform legs. An underwater diamond-toothed saw was used to cut the steel legs, eliminating the use of explosive charges, the standard method of platform removal. This new method eliminates the incidental fish kills that accompany the use of explosives.

Offshore platforms provide considerable habitat for marine organisms, even when they are operational. Invertebrates, such as mussels and barnacles, attach themselves to the steel structures, forming additional habitat that attracts and sustains populations of fish and other marine species. When platforms are removed, these ecosystems are removed with them.

The Louisiana Artificial Reef Program was established in 1986 to take advantage of obsolete oil and gas platforms that were recognized as providing habitat important to many of Louisiana’s coastal fisheries. Since the program’s inception, LDWF has created reefing sites at 35 locations with a total of more than 127 structures turned into reefs.