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King Mydas swims the Gulf of Mexico exhibit at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas (Photo by Marissa Hall | Shale Plays Media)

Anadarko gives positive spin to spar decommission (video)

Spars—the supporting structure for offshore drilling rigs—are expensive to build and utilized for many years. But what happens when it’s time to decommission one?

These spars provide unique ecological environments and fishing zones in the Gulf of Mexico, and now Anadarko Petroleum Corp. has successfully placed its Red Hawk cell spar off the coast of Louisiana. But the company put a twist on how the spar is being used. It now sits entirely underwater, set to serve the rest of its time as part of an artificial reef in the Gulf. Red Hawk is the first spar to be successfully decommissioned.

Fuelfix reports that after a decade of service and the reputation for being the industry’s first cell spar, Red Hawk was set to be retired. Anadarko concocted a plan to add the spar to the seabed off the coast of Louisiana. “When we looked at our options, it was the best way to reutilize the hull to give it a beneficial second life,” Ryan Kavanagh, Red Hawk’s facilities engineer, told Fuelfix.

The cell spar consists of seven 560-foot-long steel cylinders weighing in at a total of 7,200 tons. Anadarko invested three years and $30 million to remove the topside of the rig, which was lifted and moved to Morgan City, Louisiana, and adjust the structure so that it could become a safe and flourishing reef.

It took two days to tow the spar, still floating vertically in the Gulf, from its original anchor position to the reefing site. Once there, a controlled sink was engineered to slowly guide the massive piece of equipment to its final resting place. By its side are to jack-up rigs, which are already being monitored by the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies in Corpus Christi.

At its peak, Red Hawk produced 150 million cubic feet of natural gas a day for Anadarko. Now, the spar will provide a new environment for fish, anemones and other marine life.