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KASPRZAK, RICK A., Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Baton Rouge, LA

Abstract: Use of Oil and Gas Platforms as Habitat in Louisiana Artificial Reef Program

Over 3,900 offshore oil and gas platforms have been installed in the Gulf of Mexico, supplying 25% of the United States' production of natural gas and approximately 13% of its oil. In addition to meeting the world's energy needs, these structures also form one of the world's most extensive defacto artificial reef systems. However, Federal regulations require that these structures be removed within 1 year after the mineral lease is terminated. To date, (December, 1998) approximately 1700 rigs have been removed since 1973. In 1986 the Louisiana Fishing Enhancement Act was signed into law, in response to the National Fishing Enhancement Act, creating the Louisiana Artificial Reef Program. This program was designed to take advantage of fishing habitat opportunities offered by these obsolete platforms. Since the program's inception, 25 reef sites, utilizing the components (jackets and decks) of 75 obsolete platforms, have been created off Louisiana's coast. The use of obsolete oil and gas platforms in Louisiana has proved to be highly successful. Their large numbers, design, longevity, and stability have provided a number of advantages over the use of traditional artificial reef materials. The participating companies also save money by converting the structure into a reef rather than abandoning it onshore and are required to donate a portion of the savings to the state to run the artificial reef program. One disadvantage, however, is that the large size of these platforms restricts the distance from shore where they can be sited. To achieve the minimum clearance of 16 m required by the Coast Guard over a submerged structure the platforms must be placed in waters deeper than 30 m. Waters of this depth are found between 22 km and 115 km from shore off Louisiana making the reefs inaccessible to many anglers. 

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90924©1999 GCAGS Annual Meeting Lafayette, Louisiana