Artificial reefs make it all real.

The TPWD’s Rigs-to-Reefs program is currently overseeing 28 reefing projects in various phases of completion (view map). Since many different companies are involved, it can be difficult to predict exactly when reefing will occur. But with 9 signed donation agreements in place, it is expected that several new petroleum platforms are to be reefed in 2013.

Divers monitor the top of a standing four-pile jacket. An eight-pile jacket lies toppled on its side, dwarfing divers.
A diver explores a standing four-pile jacket.

Three methods are used to reef a rig:

  • Partial removal: The upper portion of the petroleum jacket (also called the legs) is cut at 85 feet below the surface. That portion is then laid on the bottom next to the remainder of the platform jacket that is still standing. This is the least invasive and destructive removal process since much of the marine growth on the standing base remains undisturbed.
  • Towing: Explosives are used to loosen the jacket from the sea floor. Instead of pulling the platform over onto its side at its site, the jacket is picked up and “towed” to another reef site and placed on the bottom. This is the second-best method of platform removal and helps cluster many platforms into one area to make a more complex reef site (with more and varied materials at one site).
  • Toppling: The legs at the bottom of the platform are blown off with explosives, and it is pulled over.

No matter how you measure a rig, “really big” is the best description!


Rig/OCS Block Number: Destination Method* Owner Size
(Number of legs)
Status

1

HI-A-270B

HI-A-281

Tow

JAB Energy

4-pile

Under Negotiation

2

HI-A-270B AUX

HI-A-281

Tow

JAB Energy

4-pile

Under Negotiation

3

HI-A-287-A

HI-A-341

Tow

Apache

8-pile

Reefed; need clearance check

4

HI-A-340

HI-A-341

Tow

JAB Energy

8-pile

Agreement signed; Owner preparing rig for reefing

5

HI-A-389

HI-A-355

Tow

W&T

8-pile

Under Negotiation

6

HI-A-325A

HI-A-315

Tow

Maritech

4-pile

Reefed; need clearance check

7

HI-A-340

HI-A-341

Tow

JAB Energy

8-pile

Agreement signed; Owner preparing rig for reefing

8

HI-A-389

HI-A-349

Partial

WT Offshore

8-pile

Under Negotiation

9

HI-A-446A

HI-A-446

Partial

Bandon

8-pile

Under Negotiation

10

HI-A-447A

HI-A-447

Partial

Bandon

8-pile

Agreement signed; Owner preparing rig for reefing

11

HI-A-447B

HI-A-466

Tow

Bandon

8-pile

Agreement signed; Owner preparing rig for reefing

12

HI-A-467A

HI-A-466

Tow

Apache

8-pile

Under Negotiation

13

HI-A-544

HI-A-542

Tow

Energy

3-pile

Under Negotiation

14

HI-A-554A

HI-A-542

Tow

Hunt

3-pile

Reefed; need clearance check

15

HI-A-560A

HI-A-555

Tow

Maritech

4-pile

Agreement Signed; Owner preparing rig for reefing

16

HI-A-561A

HI-A-532

Tow

McMoran

8-pile

Agreement Signed; Owner preparing rig for reefing

17

HI-A-567D

HI-A-567

Tow

Ridgelake

3-pile

Agreement Signed; Owner preparing rig for reefing

18

HI-A-568

HI-A-567

Tow

Maritech

4-pile

Agreement Signed; Owner preparing rig for reefing

19

HI-A-596E

HI-A-596

Partial

Apache

8-pile

Under Negotiation

20

MI-A-696

MU-828

Tow

Apache

8-pile

Reefed; need clearance check

21

MI-5A

BA-A-132

Tow

JAB Energy

4-pile

Under Negotiation

22

MU-758A

MU-85

Tow

EOG

4-pile

Reefed; need clearance check

23

MU-759A

MU-A-85

Tow

EOG

4-pile

Reefed; need clearance check

24

MU-762A

MU-828

Tow

Apache

4-pile

Reefed; need clearance check

25

MU-782

?

TBD

McMoran

4-pile

Under Negotiation

26

MU-784A

MU-A-16

Tow

EOG

4-pile

Reefed; need clearance check

27

MU-784B

MU-A-16

Tow

EOG

4-pile

Reefed; need clearance check

28

MU-868A

MU-828

TBD

JAB Energy

4-pile

Under Negotiation

29

PN-A-42

PN-A-42

Partial

Williams

8-pile

Under Negotiation

30

PN-58

?

TBD

Williams

4-pile

Under Negotiation

31

PN-892JA

MU-828

Tow

Apache

4-pile

Reefed; need clearance check

32

PN-A-956

PN-A-42

Tow

Williams

4-pile

Under Negotiation


Divers explore the top end (closest to surface) of a standing eight-pile jacket.

Nearshore Reefing projects currently underway include the Corpus Christi and Matagorda reef sites, which have recently been permitted through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Texas General Land Office. We plan to reef both sites using specially designed limestone-embedded concrete pyramids with openings on each side to allow for water flow. Reefing of the Corpus site is anticipated in late 2013, and the Matagorda site is planned but awaiting funding.

Biological Monitoring and Research agreements are in place with several universities to assist at many reef sites. TAMU-Galveston completed an archeology and bottom survey of the George Vancouver Liberty Ship Reef (BA-336). The university deployed 30 pyramid reefs and 410 tons of concrete culverts in summer 2012.

TAMU-Corpus Christi monitors 10 to 12 reef sites in the Mustang/Matagorda area off the Corpus Christi coast. The university documents the abundance of fish and marine life with divers and Remote Operated Vehicles (ROV).

The Clipper goes down.

UT-Brownsville monitors the Port Isabel (PS-1169), Port Mansfield (PS-1047), and Texas Clipper (PS-1122) reefs. The university’s biological sciences department has been studying the Texas Clipper reef since its sinking in 2007. Approximately 200 species of fish now occupy the ship, and invertebrate marine life such as corals, barnacles and sponges continues to thrive at the site.

A social and economic study will be conducted by TAMU-College Station beginning this year. We hope to update our knowledge on who and how many people are using our reef sites and what the economic impact is to the state of Texas.

 

The Gulf accounts for 80% of all shrimp harvested,
62% of all oysters harvested and more than
1.4 billion pounds
of annual seafood production.

More than 140 petroleum platforms—with more on the way—have found new purpose as marine habitat in the Texas Artificial Reef Program.

Texas boasts 66 artificial reef sites ranging from 5 to 100 miles from shore in the Gulf of Mexico—that’s 3,440 acres of prime fishing and diving adventure.

Seven reef sites within nine nautical miles of shore serve as accessible nearshore fishing and diving opportunities.

Red snapper, the most popular game fish in Texas Gulf waters, thrive around artificial reef sites. Scientific divers see red snapper at TPWD artificial reef sites during four of every ten visits to these locations.

With a few exceptions, the floor of the Gulf of Mexico is flat and bare except for artificial reef sites. Nearly 200 marine fish species have been seen on these complex, stable, and durable habitats among artificial reef structures.

Sixteen of 23 U.S. coastal states (or 70 percent) maintain artificial reef programs.

The Texas Clipper ship reef off South Padre Island generates more than $1 million for the local economy from anglers and $1.4–$2 million from divers. Anglers spend on average $460 per fishing trip, while divers spend upwards of $2,000 per dive.

Thirteen ships have been intentionally sunk as part of the Texas Artificial Reef Program, the largest being the USTS Texas Clipper. She’s 473 feet long—that’s 1.5 times the length of a football field.

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