Hess Corporation has contributed $25,000 to the Gulf Offshore Research Institute (GORI) to perform the first phase of scientific research on the ecological performance and habitat value of standing vs. reefed oil and gas platform habitats

Hess Corporation has contributed $25,000 to the Gulf Offshore Research Institute (GORI) to perform the first phase of scientific research on the ecological performance and habitat value of standing vs. reefed oil and gas platform habitats. GORI has partnered with the Harte Research Institute (HRI) for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, to perform the research. Dr. Greg Stunz, Endowed Chair at HRI and Director of the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation, will lead the research effort.

“Hess is proud to support the Gulf Offshore Research Institute and this important and timely scientific study of standing and reefed platforms,” said Brock Hajdik, Vice President, Gulf of Mexico & Denmark at Hess. “Hess is committed to safeguarding the environment; this commitment is a key aspect of the Hess Value of Social Responsibility. Striving for continuous improvement in our environmental impacts – including water and energy use, air emissions, waste and spills – is a central focus of our work, and this research is consistent with those priorities.”

“Our founding vision for this unique marine science and conservation effort is anchored in the knowledge that Gulf of Mexico habitat is the core of this vital ocean ecosystem,” said Rob Fondren, founding chairman of GORI. “By better understanding the positive impact of artificial habitat in our shared Gulf of Mexico, we can better explore, understand, manage and conserve the marine resources that make the Gulf so beloved.”

“Partnerships like these are key to developing a strong scientific foundation to better understand the contribution of artificial reefs in enhancing the marine environment,” said Dr. Stunz. “Clearly, these structures have developed flourishing marine ecosystems. It’s important to evaluate the habitat value they provide and how they contribute to a sustainable Gulf of Mexico. This research will allow companies and resource managers to make the most informed decisions when evaluating the options for decommissioning.”

In the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 2,000 active oil and gas production platforms function as de facto artificial reefs. As a large number of platforms are reaching the end of their production lifespans, some of these structures will be converted to permanent artificial reefs via state Rigs-to-Reefs (RTR) programs, which involve partial removal or toppling of the platforms. The conversion of standing platforms into artificial reefs results in a structure with a lower vertical relief and no physical connection to the upper water column (maximum allowable height of 85 feet below the sea surface). During this process, the distinct shallow-water communities are likely to be lost or significantly reduced, resulting in overall lower biodiversity, fish biomass, and food web productivity.

As decommissioned standing platforms are increasingly converted into artificial reefs, it is important to evaluate the ecological effects of this physical transformation on platform-associated communities. Furthermore, the number of standing platforms in the Gulf of Mexico continues to decline as removals through the decommissioning process exceed new installations. Therefore, additional studies, starting with a rigorous literature review of the current state of scientific knowledge, that compare the ecological function and services provided by standing and reefed platforms are especially important and timely; and there is a central need for science-based decision making on the proper use of these structures.

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About Hess Corporation

Hess Corporation is a leading global independent energy company engaged in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas. Hess is committed to meeting the highest standards of corporate citizenship and creating a positive impact on the communities where it operates. More information is available at http://www.hess.com

About GORI

The Gulf Offshore Research Institute (GORI) is a not-for-profit corporation engaged in the acquisition and conversion of retired offshore oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico for alternative uses, and specifically for marine monitoring, energy and environmental research, scientific education and training (MMEERSET). The platforms can also serve as infrastructure for offshore renewable energy (ORE) and offshore aquaculture operations. More information is available at www.gulfoffshoreresearch.com