Shell donated the steel frame supporting Cougar’s deck and topside – called the jacket – to the State of Louisiana’s Artificial Reef program and made a $619,000 contribution to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Department (LWFD) to help maintain and monitor the reef. The jacket is now providing habitat for a variety of marine life, including red snapper, amberjack, and many reef-dependent fish.
“LDWF values our relationships with offshore oil and gas companies, without their donations the State would not have the resources to create comparable artificial reefs. These reefs will provide excellent habitat for marine species and will offer recreational opportunities for divers and fishermen for many years into the future”, Mike McDonough, LDWF Artificial Reef Coordinator.
Shell contracted a specially designed vessel to lift and move the nearly 350 foot tall and 3000-ton jacket to the Ship Shoal 320 block off the coast of LA - an approximately 50 mile open water journey - where it was successfully positioned as an artificial reef. Earlier, the same heavy-lift vessel safely removed the Cougar topside and deck, placing it on a barge for transport back to shore for cleaning and recycling or disposal.
Building on our legacy of leadership and innovation in the Gulf of Mexico, Shell engineers identified several opportunities to improve the cost and pace of decommissioning Cougar without compromising safety. For example, Shell re-purposed an out-of-service, land-based workover rig to perform well decommissioning, deployed Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to perform site inspections and cleanup work on the sea floor around the platform, and decommissioning in place the associated subsea infrastructure at the nearby Popeye field, which produced back to Cougar.
Across all our operations, Shell takes a lifecycle approach to project development that factors in asset decommissioning and restoration during front-end planning. Shell also sustains an unrelenting focus on safely and efficiently decommissioning its assets when they reach the natural end of their life. Over the past decade, Shell has safely decommissioned three of its pioneering Gulf of Mexico platforms – Brazos A-19, South Timbalier 301, and Eugene Island 331A. Shell is also in the process of decommissioning our Brent Field in the North Sea.