Cougar’s new purpose: Life after decommissioning

What happens to a Shell platform after its production life has come to an end? For Shell’s Cougar platform, which operated in the Gulf of Mexico since 1981, its purpose is changing. Cougar is now a new artificial reef that is serving as a ‘rest stop’ and new marine habitat that could support up to 14,000 fish. It’s all part of the Rigs to Reef program, which was created by Congress in 1984. The Cougar structure stood about 35 stories high below the surface prior to being reefed. Now that structure sits on its side on the ocean floor about 150 miles from the Louisiana coast – just within reach of local fisherman, but far enough away to avoid shallow waters and shipping lanes. Research institutions like the Coastal Marine Institute and Harte Research Institute tout the benefits of artificial reefs to the ecosystem including fish population increases.

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