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Home > Communications > Newsroom > 2009

NEWSROOM

Shell Donation to Support Marine Life Preservation
October 23, 2009

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) today received from Shell a $450,000 donation to help support efforts to protect and foster fish and other marine life in Louisiana coastal waters and the Gulf of Mexico. The funds will be utilized by the Louisiana Artificial Reef Program.

“Our continued partnership with Shell helps our department fulfill its mission of protecting and promoting Louisiana’s natural resources, while enhancing the habitat for a variety of marine species,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham.  “These funds will help create amazing fishing opportunities for charter boat captains, recreational and commercial fishermen and enhance the state’s reputation as one of the best places to fish in the US.”

Shell’s donation to the Louisiana Artificial Reef Program, created in 1986 to provide a sustainable habitat for Louisiana’s prolific marine life, complements Shell’s September decommissioning of its Eugene Island 331A (EI 331A) platform and the relocation of the platform steel jacket to create an artificial reef approximately 100 miles south of Iberia Parish, Louisiana.

The EI 331A structure is now the newest component of the Gulf of Mexico’s Rigs to Reefs Program, established in 1984 to convert offshore oil and gas structures that have served their useful life to designated artificial reefs where they have been found to have a “profound and pervasive” positive impact on fish and other marine life.  MMS studies have found that fish densities are 20 to 50 times higher near offshore platforms than in nearby open water, an especially important fact since the Gulf of Mexico lacks any naturally occurring reefs.

Other decommissioned platforms have become favorite environments for recreational and commercial fishermen and divers who are attracted by the large number of fish which make these artificial reefs their home.

“Shell is proud to support this important program through a financial contribution to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and through converting the EI 331A platform to an artificial reef,” said Richard Newsom, Vice President for Operations Services and Project Support for Shell.  “As one of the leading energy producers in the Gulf of Mexico, we operate in the Gulf everyday and have a strong appreciation for the importance of the marine life habitat and the Gulf’s eco-system.”

The EI 331A platform, with 24 well slots, began producing operations in 1972 and was converted to a pipeline infrastructure hub in 2005.   It experienced significant damage from Hurricane Ike in 2008.  The platform operated in water depths of 250 feet, approximately 155 miles southwest of New Orleans.  Shell engineers determined that repair of the platform’s steel “jacket” structure was not feasible and that removing the platform to cerate an artificial reef served multiple purposes.

The Louisiana Artificial Reef Program was established in 1986 to take advantage of obsolete oil and gas platforms, which were recognized as providing habitat important to many of Louisiana's coastal fishes. Federal law and international treaty require these platforms to be removed one year after production ceases, at great expense to the industry. The removal of these platforms resulted in a loss of reef habitat.  Since the program's inception, 75 oil and gas related companies have participated in the program. More than 60 offshore reef sites, utilizing 232 jackets obsolete platforms have been created off Louisiana's coast. The use of obsolete oil and gas platforms in Louisiana has proved to be highly successful. Their large numbers, design, longevity and stability have provided a number of advantages over the use of traditional artificial reef materials.

For information on the location of Louisiana’s artificial reef resources, go to
www.wlf.louisiana.gov/fishing/programs/habitat/artificialreef.cfm .

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