From Oil and Gas to Life: Prospects for Rigs-to-Reefs in Southeast Asia

Posted: 11 Jan 2017

See all articles by Youna Lyons

Youna Lyons

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Centre for International Law; Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security

Loke Chou

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Tropical Marine Science Institute

Date Written: June 08, 2015

Abstract

This article makes the proposition that, in Southeast Asia, there is a strong case for large steel structures that have become unfit for offshore oil and gas offshore activities to be seriously considered for re-use as artificial reefs for fisheries, biodiversity enhancement and conservation, habitat creation or marine tourism purposes (the ‘rigs-to-reefs’ process). This argument is based on the observation that although the seas of Southeast Asia are the epicentre of the world’s marine biodiversity, they are subjected to intense exploitation and numerous threats; overfishing, destructive fishing, sedimentation, marine-based pollution, and coastal development are major sources of stress on ecosystems in the region, threatening the existence of 90% of the coral reefs, as well as mangrove and seagrass. However, given the high productivity of seas in the region, sessile marine life develops at a fast rate on most subsea structures and attracts fish. This article discusses the potential opportunities for the development of rigs-to-reefs in this environmental context. The restraint showed by governments and the industry to engage on this path is also discussed, including a misunderstanding of applicable rules of international law. Lessons learned from rigs-to-reefs programmes in the Gulf of Mexico are also presented as well as recommendations for Southeast Asia within an overarching goal of sustainable development.

Keywords: rigs-to-reefs, offshore installations, oil and gas platforms, dumping at sea, marine ecology, Southeast Asia, ocean law

JEL Classification: N56, O13, Q29, Q57

Suggested Citation

Lyons, Youna and Chou, Loke, From Oil and Gas to Life: Prospects for Rigs-to-Reefs in Southeast Asia (June 08, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2897375

Youna Lyons (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Centre for International Law ( email )

Block B, #02-01
469 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore, 259776
Singapore

Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security ( email )

University of Wollongong
Wollongong, NSW 2500
Australia

Loke Chou

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Tropical Marine Science Institute ( email )

Singapore

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