You can buy a used drilling platform just like you can buy a used boat. And convert it into a popular dive resort.

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Background

Inevitably, marine organisms attach themselves to the underwater portions of oil production platforms, transforming them into artificial reefs. Oil rigs continue to function as long as the reservoirs underneath them provide oil at a profitable rate. At the end of their productive lives they must be decommissioned and removed – destroying a valuable habitat for a high number of diverse species. Especially, as the shape and complexity of the structure may lead to significant species diversity and fish densities can be 20 to 50 times higher around oil and gas platforms than in nearby open water.

Challenge

Once the rigs are decommissioned, the method of RTR (Rigs-to-Reefs) can be applied. In the United States, where the practice started and is most common, Rigs-to-Reefs is a nationwide program. In the Gulf of Mexico about 10% of all decommissioned platforms had been converted by September 2012. While the percentage seems rather low, the total number amounts to 420 rigs having become permanent coral reefs.

While the program is quite popular among fishermen, the oil industry (avoiding the substantial removal costs) and governments (avoiding the risk of an environmental desaster), there nevertheless is an environmental opposition to RTR, having prevented conversions in California and in the North Sea. Those opposing charge that RTR is an excuse for ocean dumping, allowing the oil industry to abdicate from its responsibility.

However, so far there is no Rigs-to-Reef program in Malaysia – but there well exist inoperative oil platforms.  

Idea

At Sipadan, one of the world’s top ten dive sites known for its amazing species diversity and abundance of marine life, a former oil-digging platform has been given a second life as scuba-diving hotel. As it was already in the perfect spot for pristine diving, the conversion kind of suggested itself.

Implementation

Suzette Harris from Singapore founded the all-inclusive resort Seaventures in 1996. Her father-in-law, a regional Malaysian official, had bought the rig in 1988 and had it towed into its current location. While the platform has been renovated, its accommodation has not changed much from the former rig standard – making the 30 room hotel the cheapest option for passionate divers in the area.

Major functionalities of the oil platform have been preserved, enabling divers today to take an external elevator from deck level directly to ocean level, granting immediate access to the “house reef”. Furthermore, the resort is located in the Coral Triangle, offering plentiful diving experiences.

Impact

Converting the oil rig into a diving resort allowed and necessitated the preservation of the spectacular house reef. Moreover, the area has been accounted the status of a national park, imposing strict limitations concerning the number of diving and snorkeling licenses per day.

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Website: http://www.seaventuresresort.com/resort.html & http://www.sipadan.com/Seaventures.php
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/seaventures
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMsRO2AdrD4&hd=1
Press: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748703376504575491662467118800


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Seaventures (Kota Kinabalu Sabah, Malaysia)

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Seaventures (Kota Kinabalu Sabah, Malaysia) 5.986390, 116.076540

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