More research needed into artificial reefs, APPEA told

Rick Wilkinson
OGJ Correspondent

PERTH, Apr. 21 -- There is a need for more scientific research into the environmental effects of using offshore platforms as artificial reefs said David Booth, an expert from the University of Technology in Sydney.

Booth told the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) conference that scuttling platforms to provide a marine environment seems like a no-brainer. However, surprisingly little scientific research has been done on the effects of this practice.

He said fish and other marine life are attracted to offshore platforms for the protection they provide, and with 6,000 units to be decommissioned by 2025, including 60 in Australia, it seems like a win-win solution. But Booth warned more work is needed to determine if the practice is beneficial to the ocean environment.

The great hope for rigs as reefs is whether or not they aid in spawning generations of marine life. Only one study worldwide has conclusively proven that sunken rigs have contributed in a net positive way to the environment around it.

“We need an industry program backed by science, which outlines the options for decommissioning depending on what type of [platform] it is, what type of water it’s in, and the depth,” he said. “The potential is there, but there’s more work to be done.”

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