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Offshore oil rig

Offshore Oil Platform Decommissioning Forum For The Public

Offshore Oil Platform Decommissioning Forum For The Public

Offshore oil rig

Credit: iStockphoto

This event is sold out but will be live-streamed. Scroll to bottom for live stream video.

The Aquarium will host a forum to investigate the issue of decommissioning oil rigs. Once these structures have reached the end of their functional lifespan, drilling operators, government agencies, and surrounding communities must decide what to do with them.

Their fate is of particular importance to ocean ecosystems, because these structures–thousands of feet of steel and concrete–over time are colonized by barnacles, fish, mussels and other marine life, forming an artificial reef. Some envision retired oil rigs as sites for recreational diving and even offshore hotels. Others have concerns about the environmental implications of leaving the equipment in the ocean.

At the Aquarium’s forum regulators from Federal and state agencies, scientists, representatives of commercial and recreational fishing organizations, divers, and other experts will gather to discuss the possibilities and what sustainable options exist for decommissioned oil rigs off the coast of Southern California. It will also invite the public to get involved and provide input in the state and federal decision-making process.

We invite you to join this discussion. This is an unusual opportunity for the public to learn about these platforms, what the decommissioning options are, and how the decisions will be made.


  • To facilitate public awareness of the process to decommission oil and gas platforms and facilities offshore California
  • To provide information about decommissioning options and the environmental review process
  • To raise awareness about public involvement and opportunities for public engagement during the decision-making process
  • To invite the public to participate in and inform the state and federal decision-making process

Forum Kick-off

Sunday, January 12
Student Poster Session Viewing
California and the Ocean: Three Perspectives on the Future
6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Free Evening Event

Registration for the forum includes admission for the keynote and poster session.

Registration includes:

Monday, January 13, 2020
8:45 a.m. Welcoming Remarks. Setting the Stage… Goals of the Forum
Jerry Schubel, President and CEO, Aquarium of the Pacific, Marina Voskanian, Division Chief, Mineral Resources Management Division, California State Lands Commission, and Jessalyn Ishigo, Environmental Business Development American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
9:00 a.m. The California Situation
Number and locations of platforms; what we know about life on and around them; age and status of platform, etc.: An overview.

  • State Offshore Field Abandonments – South Elwood and Rincon Field. Steve Curran, Senior Petroleum Drilling, CSLC.
  • California OCS Platform Decommissioning Outlook and Challenges John Smith, OCS Decommissioning Consultant.
  • Life Beneath California Platforms. Ann Scarborough Bull, Project Scientist, Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • California’s Offshore Platforms Function as Fish Habitat. Jeremy Claisse, Assistant Professor, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
10:30 a.m. Break
10:45 a.m. California Stakeholder Panel

  • Platform Decommissioning: Enhancement or Restoration. Tom Raftican, President, The Sportfishing Conservancy
  • Platform Decommissioning: Restoring the Marine Environment. Linda Krop, Executive Director, Environmental Defense Center
  • How is the Commercial Fishing Community Affected by Rig Decommissioning? Kim Selkoe, Executive Director, Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara
  • Robust Assessment of Environmental Impacts and Operational Safety. Evan Zimmerman, Executive Director, Offshore Operations Committee (OOC)
  • Platform Decommissioning: Legal and Cultural Importance of Engaging with California Coastal Native Nations Angela Mooney D’Arcy, Executive Director, Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples
12:15 p.m. Lunch Break
1:50 p.m. The US Experience: An Overview
  • Gulf of Mexico OCS Decommissioning Experiences and Reefing Process Robert Byrd, Senior Consultant, TSB Offshore, Inc.
  • California Decommissioning Project Experience. Simon Poulter, founding Principal and Vice President, Padre Associates, Inc.
2:30 p.m. The International Experience: An Overview
  • North Sea Decommissioning Experience (Miller project). Win Thornton, VP of Decommissioning, BP Exploration and Production (UK)
  • North Sea Perspective. Nils Cohrs, Former Head of Decommissioning, Oil and Gas Authority, United Kingdom
  • Leave or Retrieve, Offshore Platform Steel Jackets and Pipelines? Joe Nicolette, expert on Net Environmental Benefits Analysis (NEBA) Vice President, Planning and Ecosystem Services, Montrose Environmental Group
3:30 p.m. Break
4:00 p.m. The State Agencies Review and Decision Making Process: the players and the role of the public outlined.
  • The Legal and Policy Challenges of Offshore Decommissioning in State Waters. Seth Blackmon, Senior Staff Counsel, California State Lands Commission
  • Coastal Commission Jurisdiction and Review Process. Cassidy Teufel, Senior Environmental Scientist, California Coastal Commission
  • The California Department of Fish and Wildlife Role in Platform Decommissioning. Eric Wilkins, Senior Environmental Scientist Specialist - California Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Region
  • California’s Rig-to-Reefs LawChris Potter, Environmental Scientist, California Ocean Protection Council
5:00 p.m. Q & A with Audience
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
9:30 a.m. Observations from January 13
10:00 a.m. Summary Panel: “This is What I Heard”
Moderated by Jerry Schubel and Chris Potter Environmental Scientist, California Ocean Protection Council

  • Jennifer Lucchesi, Executive Officer, California State Lands Commission
  • Cassidy Teufel, Sr. Environmental Scientist, California Coastal Commission
  • John Zorovich, Deputy Director, SBC Energy Division
  • Don Kent, President and CEO, Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute
  • Robert Grove, (Retired) Southern California Edison
11:30 a.m. Q & A and Concluding Remarks
12:30 p.m. Adjourn


Can’t make it to the forum in person? You can tune in and submit your comments on our live web stream. For commenting or for larger video players (including full screen), please click on the title of the event in the embedded video below. There are four events in the playlist, to watch live, please make sure to select the correct video (click/tap on the stacked icon in the top right of the video player to view playlist).

MONDAY, JAN 13, 2020 8:45 AM–6:00 PM TUESDAY, JAN 14, 2020 9:30 AM–12:30 PM
General: $125
Students: $75
Students presenting posters are admitted free.
Octopus silhouette

Guidelines for submission for student poster session. Poster abstract deadline is November 26, 2019.


MONDAY, JAN 13, 2020 8:45 AM–6:00 PM TUESDAY, JAN 14, 2020 9:30 AM–12:30 PM
Sold out
This event is sold out. Tickets/reservations are no longer available.
General: $125
Students: $75
Students presenting posters are admitted free.
(562) 590-3100, ext. 0

Co-Sponsored by:

  • Aquarium of the Pacific (AoP)
  • California Ocean Protection Council (OPC)
  • California State Lands Commission (CSLC)
  • Honda Marine Science Foundation (HMSF)
  • Dr. Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg
  • Blue Latitude Foundation (Poster Session)

In Partnership with:

  • Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)