Could Offshore Oil Rigs Provide a New Platform for Aquaculture in the United States?

The Gulf of Mexico is littered with hundreds of oil platforms that have gone quiet over the last decade. The federal government refers to these defunct derricks and retired rigs as “idle iron.”

Station Padre sits 25 miles from the Texas coast in 150 feet of clear water.

But they’re not supposed to stay idle for long. Under United States law, oil rigs and all their associated infrastructure – above the surface and below – need to be dismantled and removed within one year of ceasing production.

Decommissioning an oil platform is a major undertaking, and many in the oil and gas industry view it as an expensive headache. In 2015 the Government Accountability Office estimated it will eventually cost $38 billion to remove the 1,800 or so platforms from the Gulf of Mexico.

Kent Satterlee, however, sees the abandoned rigs as an opportunity.

An engineer who spent 35 years with Shell Oil, Satterlee is executive director of the Gulf Offshore Research Institute, a group looking to repurpose two platforms in the Gulf of Mexico for aquaculture and other endeavors.

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