07 Jul 2021

Marine Environment: Exmouth artificial reef a BHP showcase

As oil and gas assets mature and reach commercial retirement, it is important to ensure facilities and infrastructure are decommissioned in an environmentally and socially responsible way. 

BHP Petroleum Australia engineered an innovative solution to decommissioning through its involvement in the Exmouth King Reef project.

King Reef, located approximately six nautical miles off the coast of Exmouth, Western Australia, is the largest and fastestdeveloping, purpose-built artificial reef in the Southern Hemisphere.  

BHP’s Griffin offshore facility was coming to the end of its life and required decommissioning. It was decided that BHP would develop the artificial reef using six giant steel structures repurposed from the facility.  

These structures were returned to the ocean along with 49 concrete modules to a two-acre segment of seabed around 10 minutes from Exmouth Marina, forming an artificial reef boasting more than 27,000 cubic metres of underwater habitat. 

Reusing the structures from the Griffin facility in this manner has given birth to a diverse, carefully monitored marine system within the Exmouth community, encouraging a diverse array of undersea life to flourish among the reefThis is not only beneficial to the marine ecosystem, but also to local fisheries, marine scientists, and recreational divers, transforming a once-barren patch of seafloor into a bustling aquatic community. 

BHP has a close association with the Exmouth community. In addition to the King Reef project, the company funds the Reef Vision citizen science programwhere people from the local community capture videos of local fish species for scientific research. Last year, it also introduced the Vital Resources Fund, which helped Exmouth-based businesses access $1000 for professional business services at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information about the Exmouth project, click here.