Photo: Station Padre; Source: Innovasea

Creating blueprint for reusing old oil & gas assets in Gulf of Mexico

An old offshore platform in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico is set to be converted into a working fish farm, creating a blueprint for future aquaculture re-use projects and providing repurposing options for old oil and gas assets.

Innovasea, a provider of aquatic solutions for aquaculture and fish tracking, has helped the Gulf Offshore Research Institute (GORI) secure federal grant funds to continue its plan to repurpose a defunct oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico for aquaculture. As the platform sits in about 150 feet of water, it offers excellent visibility and is conducive to aquaculture, Innovasea said earlier this week.

GORI is a not-for-profit corporation engaged in the research of offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and how they can be repurposed once they are no longer producing oil and gas. The institute is currently working to secure relevant re-use permits for the platform.

The $100,000 grant is coming from the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to help the institute finance the next phase of its proposal to transform Station Padre, a former oil platform 25 miles east of Padre Island, Texas, into a working fish farm.

The Station Padre platform is no longer working as the natural gas production there stopped in 2015. Built by Shell in the 1980s, Station Padre is now owned by Peregrine Oil and Gas.

Kent Satterlee, executive director of GORI, noted: “With the renewed push toward a low-carbon future, we believe offshore fish farming is the best way for the country to provide a sustainable, domestically-produced source of protein.”

Dismantling a platform can cost up to $10 million and there are hundreds of these platforms in the Gulf of Mexico waiting to be dismantled. In 2015, the Government Accountability Office estimated it would eventually cost $38 billion to remove the 1,800 or so platforms from the Gulf of Mexico.

David Kelly, CEO of Innovasea, pointed out it makes more sense to explore productive new uses for these old pieces of ocean infrastructure rather than spending millions of dollars to dismantle them. Kelly also stated the project could potentially pave the way for the reuse of abandoned oil platforms and help spur offshore aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico.

Offshore platforms were the source of inspiration for a tourism project recently announced by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. The project – named THE RIG – will span an area of more than 150,000 square meters and provide a multitude of hospitality offerings, adventures, and aquatic sporting experiences.