Old Chevron rigs creating coral reefs around southern Thai island

Old oil rigs donated by Chevron have provided the foundation for thriving new coral and a revived marine ecosystem around the popular southern Thai island of Koh Pha-ngan, said Thailand’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment who has declared the area a protected site.

“We have learned that limiting human activity is key to rebuilding new coral, which will serve as shelter to marine life. The ban will be in effect until March 8, 2023,” said Minister Varawut Silpa-archa as he inspected the site.

Varawut had planned to dive into the usually crystal-clear azure waters around the resort island but had to defer because of high waves caused by the monsoon season. Instead, more experienced professional divers descended into the deep and photographed the new coral and the thriving schools of fish and marine mammals making their homes there.

“The photos taken by divers show that the artificial reefs have served as the foundation of an underwater ecosystem, which helped increase the number of marine life around the island significantly,” he said.

The project was launched in September 2013. Chevron and several other petrol exploration companies have taken part by donating old equipment to serve as reef foundations.  Since then, the Ministry has installed more than 150,000 artificial reefs made from decommissioned petroleum rigs covering more than 14,000 acres of Thailand’s waters.

Fishing and diving activities will not be permitted until the ban ends in 2023. Limiting human activity helps accelerate the rate that young coral will latch on to the artificial reefs.

Photo courtesy of https://kohphangannews.org/