Oil rig workers and saltwater anglers have long noticed that petroleum platforms on the Continental Shelf act as unintentional artificial reefs, creating thousands of square miles of marine habitat Gulf-wide, as various species attach themselves to rigs below the waterline. The Texas Artificial Reef Program takes advantage of this insight, partnering with conservation organizations, corporations, communities and sportsmen to create and maintain more than 4,000 acres of artificial reef structures within Texas Gulf waters.
Recycling, Texas Style
The Artificial Reef Program focuses its efforts on three types of materials:
- Decommissioned drilling rigs in the Rigs-to-Reefs Program.
- Highway bridge materials and other sources of concrete and heavy-gauge steel in the Nearshore Reefing Program.
- Large marine vessels in the Ships-to-Reefs Program.
All materials must meet federal and state guidelines for environmental safety and be free of contaminants.
Turning Blue Into Green
Corporate petroleum partners in the Rigs-to-Reefs Program donate their post-production rigs to TPWD, thereby saving substantial costs of moving and dismantling obsolete rigs onshore. The amount of money a company saves varies; in some cases, a company reefs a rig at no savings to itself. Other companies have saved upwards of $700,000. Participating companies also invest in healthy marine ecology by contributing 50 percent of their cost savings to the Artificial Reef Program. In turn, the Artificial Reef Program uses these dedicated funds to construct more underwater habitat that supports the fishing industry, diving and sport-fishing tourism and the overall health of the Gulf. The program is a win-win for all involved. The majority of our funds come from the Rigs-to-Reefs program and through grants.