Innovasea helps secure grant to pursue oil rig aquaculture project
Innovasea has announced it helped the Gulf Offshore Research Institute (GORI) secure a USD 100,000 (EUR 88,775) federal grant to further plans to repurpose a defunct Gulf of Mexico oil rig for aquaculture.
The grant, sourced from the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission and NOAA, will help GORI finance the next phase of its proposal, according to Innovasea. The institute is proposing that Station Padre – an oil platform located 25 miles east of Padre Island, Texas – be repurposed into a working fish farm.
“We’re grateful for this grant and are excited to put the funds to use proving the viability of platform-based aquaculture in the United States and elsewhere,” GORI Executive Director Kent Satterlee said in a release. “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.”
The money will help with the preliminary design of the net-pen system, along with a financial analysis of what the entire project would cost – both to be performed by Innovasea. The company added that the financing will also help fund a species study at the University of Miami, and research into the permits that the project would require.
Innovasea has already assisted GORI with the project when it first examined whether the oil rig could be suitable for reuse as a fish farm. According to Innovasea, the rig sits in about 150 feet of water that offers "excellent visibility and is conducive to aquaculture.”
“This is a creative project that could potentially pave the way for the reuse of abandoned oil platforms and help spur offshore aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico,” Innovasea CEO David Kelly said. “Rather than spending millions of dollars to dismantle these pieces of ocean infrastructure – and disturb the ecosystems that have sprung up around them naturally in the process – it makes sense to explore productive new uses for them like offshore aquaculture.”
Platform leases in federal waters expire a year after oil production stops – with decommissioning supposed to take place a year after that. Typically, oil platforms have been converted into artificial reefs – Texas and Louisiana have decommissioned more than 500 platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and turned them into reefs. Currently, the U.S. has around 2,700 offshore oil platforms in federal waters.
“There are hundreds of abandoned oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico waiting to be dismantled,” Innovasea said. “Dismantling a platform can cost up to USD 10 million [EUR 8.8 million], and in 2015 the Government Accountability Office estimated it will eventually cost USD 38 billion [EUR 33 billion] to remove the 1,800 or so platforms from the Gulf of Mexico.”
GORI is seeking reuse permits for the platform from the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
Photo courtesy of Innovasea