The spar section of the decommissioned Neptune VK826 oil rig located approximately 60 nautical miles off Alabama’s coast will soon become part of the state’s artificial reef system thanks to an agreement between the structure’s owner, Noble Energy, Inc., and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR).
This new reef site is being made available through the state’s Rigs to Reefs program, which allows ADCNR to repurpose decommissioned oil and gas rigs as artificial reefs that support a wide variety of marine life including many species targeted by anglers. In addition to donating the decommissioned rigs, the oil and gas companies are also required to make a donation to the Alabama Seafoods Fund to be used in research, monitoring, habitat restoration and management of Alabama’s marine resources.
“The Rigs to Reefs program allows us to keep these structures in the water to continue serving as productive habitat instead of being recycled onshore,” said Chris Blankenship, ADCNR Commissioner. “These structures are often called ‘islands of life’ because they support everything from coral to pelagic fish and sea turtles. We are excited to make this new reef site available to anglers in the coming weeks.”
The rig’s platform was removed on July 24 and the massive spar (705 feet by 72 feet) will be towed from its current location and sunk at a depth of 700 feet approximately 55 nautical miles south of Mobile Bay in early August 2023. Anglers can expect to have access to the new reef site in late August or early September.
“Anglers will be able to visit the site when we publish the coordinates a few weeks from now,” said Craig Newton, Artificial Reef Coordinator for ADCNR’s Marine Resources Division. “Before publishing the coordinates we need to review the completion report from the contractors and confirm the resting location of the spar. This typically takes a few weeks from the time the structure hits the bottom.”
Known along Alabama’s Gulf Coast as the “Beer Can Rig,” the structure has provided important marine habitat for many species since going into service in the late-1990s. The durability of the spar structure will continue to support a stable offshore ecosystem and provide generations of anglers with access to quality outdoor recreation.
Learn more about Alabama’s Artificial Reef Program at www.outdooralabama.com/saltwater-fishing/artificial-reefs.
ADCNR promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions: Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. Learn more at www.outdooralabama.com.
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