Home Sweet Oil Platform

Beyond Petroleum
Creative Commons License 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?

reef fish & soft coral
Creative Commons License 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.

Lindsay Goodier is the Online Editor for OilandGasInvestor.com; check out her blog, Oil Rules.

Feeling energized?
Read about the Minerals Managment Service’s announcement about Sperm Whales.
See what Lindsay Goodier had to say about our Wiess Energy Hall.
Michael Phelps and solar power: what’s the connection?

Michael Phelps and solar power – what’s the connection?

¿Cómo se gana Oro?
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What do Michael Phelps and solar power have in common? (And no – the answer isn’t that solar was the secret behind that high-tech suit he raced to 8 gold medals.) Check out the latest post on the Oil & Gas Investor‘s fascinating Oil Rules blog for the answer from our very own Claire.

If you’re not already reading Oil Rules, check it out - bloggess Lindsay Goodier brings you the latest oil industry news (and let’s face it – who doesn’t need to be up to speed on energy?) in a witty and engaging way – tackling John McCain copying the FrenchParis Hilton’s energy policy – and everything in between.

And in case you missed it – here’s a link to Oil Rules’ tour through the Wiess Energy Hall with Claire. Wondering why gas is $4 a gallon? We can’t promise your wallet will be wincing any less, but a visit to this hall is sure to clear things up – and hopefully inspire some ideas about alternatives for the future.

Science Doesn’t Sleep (7.29.08)

a13det70HC81
Creative Commons License photo credit: Andrew Seidl

So here’s what went down after you logged off.

It’s NASA‘s 50th anniversary – Wired salutes the agency with images of their most incredible extraterrestrial vehicles, while others ponder its future.

The Oil & Gas Investor blog has a great post on rising public interest in the energy industry – and their visit to our Wiess Energy Hall yesterday.

Scientists have discovered a new species of “predatory bagworm” (someone needs a new nickname) with a very unique habit.

China is taking extreme steps to clear its air before the Olympics – so, how are the athletes preparing to race, hurdle, dive and cycle in what seems to be incredibly persistent smog?

Researchers predict that by 2030, 9 out of 10 American adults will be overweight or obese.

Aging is not inevitable. It’s the result of specific genetic instructions - instructions that we may one day know how to turn off.

Glenn Martin has invented the “world’s first practical jetpack.” That’s right – jetpack. He’s unveiling it at EEA AirVenture, a gigantic annual air show – but you can see video of a test here.