|photo credit: jurvetson|
We all breathed a sign of relief this weekend as Gustav spared the Houston area. We hope that the hurricanes backed up for landing on our continent follow his example and fizzle out before causing as much harm as we have seen in the past century. Katrina and Rita caused untold damage from which we are still struggling to recover.
The Gulf of Mexico normally produces about 1.5 million barrels a day of U.S. crude: 2% of global oil production and about a quarter of our domestic output. Many damaged platforms and oil rigs in the Gulf were sunk or put adrift after Katrina and Rita.
This appears alarming at first, and of course, oli platform cost us millions of dollars to replace – to say nothing of the production lost. But the story is not all dark. Our guest blogger, Lindsey Goodier from the Oil and Gas Investor tells us more…
I learned something new yesterday – did you know that oil platforms are home to thousands of underwater creatures?
|photo credit: jon hanson|
The protection provided by the platforms attracts a variety of fish and the structures become home to corals, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. Over the past 20 years, over 200 platforms that are no longer used have attracted many sea creatures. The conglomeration of sea creatures at these oil platforms has served as a learning center for marine life observation.
Especially in the Gulf of Mexico, the habitat the platforms create for fish is of value to fishermen. Since the GOM is a flat plain, comprised of mud, clay and sand with very little natural rock bottom and reef habitat, the platforms are one of the few places that habitats can form. Without oil platforms, fish and other marine life would be far more dispersed, making commercial fishing, recreational fishing and diving more difficult.
As observed and documented by the Minerals Management Service’s (MMS) diving scientists, invertebrates and plants attach to petroleum platforms within weeks of their placement in the marine environment. Within a year, the platform can be completely covered with plants and sessile invertebrates, attracting mobile invertebrates and fish species, and forming a highly complex food chain.
Now, I won’t be so naive as to ignore the fact that oil spills do occur. Yes, living under an oil platform can be a risky way of life. But the benefits of community living for these creatures seems to be greater than the risk of an actual spill. And the enjoyment that they bring to humans who can observe communities of marine life is the greatest benefit of all.
Read about the Minerals Managment Service’s announcement about Sperm Whales.
See what Lindsay Goodier had to say about our Wiess Energy Hall.
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