Alternate uses of retired oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico
The number of fixed oil and gas platforms are declining in the Gulf of Mexico, there were ∼3674 platforms installed the since 1942 and today there are ∼1320. Eventually, ∼30,000 jobs will be lost in related industries because of platform removals. Retired oil and gas platforms could be redeployed for alternate uses such as CO2 capture and storage, renewable wind energy, and sustainable fisheries and employ citizens in coastal areas. Elsewhere around the world, offshore platforms are used for purposes other than producing oil and gas. U.S. Federal legislation (Energy Policy Act 2005 Section 388 of Public Law [PL] 109-58); 30 CFR 285.1000 Subpart J) authorizes the use of retired oil and gas platforms for alternate uses. If the retired oil and gas structures are preserved, the infrastructure could also be used to recover stranded petroleum using CO2 enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR). We examined the socio-economic incentives, environmental impacts, and regulatory issues associated with the alternate uses. We suggest that CO2-EOR is the most economically efficient way to store CO2 offshore and that offshore wind turbines may assist with the energy requirements for oil and gas production and CO2-EOR. Data suggest that in our study area offshore platforms are more successful at producing fish and invertebrates if they are left standing instead of toppled over. The greatest regulatory issue facing the use of retired platforms is the transfer of liability. If the structures are redeployed, the previous oil and gas owner/operators are still responsible for eventual removal and catastrophic events. A variety of future economic activity in the Gulf of Mexico could take advantage of this infrastructure, if it remains in place.