What should countries do with thousands of offshore oil and gas drilling rigs built during a boom in the 1980s that will soon reach retirement age and require decommissioning?

Source: The New York Times

Among the ideas being considered: sinking, removing or repurposing them in a variety of ways including offshore super-max prisons, scuba hotels, marine science schools, fish farm hubs, wind, solar or tidal power stations.

The Seaventures Dive Rig is a hotel and scuba school on a converted oil rig in the western Pacific near Borneo. Credit Adam Dean for The New York Times

ON A PLATFORM IN THE CELEBES SEA — IN the next several years, thousands of offshore oil and gas drilling rigs, many of them built during a global construction boom in the 1970s and ’80s, will reach retirement age and require decommissioning. Countries will have to decide whether to sink, remove or repurpose them.

While few proposals have been put in practice, there is no shortage of ideas for alternative uses of the platforms: supermax prisons, private homes, scuba schools, fish farms, windmill stations.

Unlike earlier generations of offshore rigs, which tended to be fewer, smaller and closer to shore, the ones being retired now are bigger, more numerous and spread much more broadly across the globe. Most of these retirement-ready platforms are too old for heavy industrial use, like drilling, but not necessarily old enough to demand full removal.

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