During a BSEE-directed unannounced exercise in the Gulf of Mexico (April 2013) offshore operator Noble Energy shipped this 600-ton capping stack to a simulated well hole 5, 047 feet below the surface.
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Rigs to Reefs

“Rigs-to-Reefs” policy allows some platforms to be converted to artificial reefs.

“Rigs-to-Reefs” is a term used for a policy allowing obsolete, nonproductive offshore oil and gas platforms to be converted as artificial reefs to support marine habitat.

BSEE cooperates with stakeholders, coastal states, and the offshore industry to benefit marine life on and around oil and natural gas platforms.

When approved by the appropriate states and the Army Corps of Engineers, BSEE may approve a variance to the operator’s contractual obligations for the decommissioning of some offshore platforms Notice to Lessees (NTL 10-5). More information on the Artificial Reefs Plan are contained in Title II of the National Fishing Enhancement Act of 1984 (P.L. 98-623); the National Marine Fisheries Service developed the National Artificial Reef Plan.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is not involved in any programs to create artificial reefs. BSEE is responsible for insuring that when an operator is no longer producing oil or gas from a well, the well is correctly decommissioned, which entails permanently sealing the well to protect the environment and removing all structures which could affect the environment and impede navigation or other uses of the area. These obligations are part of the original lease terms.

Many states and several federal agencies are involved with the Artificial Reef Plan which permit operators to apply to add a platform structure to the Artificial Reef, often requiring the operators to move the abandoned structure to an designated reefing area before it is submerged as an artificial reef. Operators are still responsible for returning the environment where the platform was located to the condition agreed upon in their contract with the U.S. government.

BSEE adopted a national “Rigs-to-Reefs policy” that supports the reuse of oil and gas structures for limited offshore artificial reef development if approved by the appropriate agencies. Operators with platforms which are non-productive can apply to the Army Corps of Engineers and the appropriate states, and if approved, may request BSEE approval to dispose of their platform within the guidelines set forth by the appropriate organizations.

Currently many states have Artificial Reef Plans:

Other Documents: