Re: Oil Rig access could be in jeopardy

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Posted by Ken Kurtis on August 31, 2004 at 09:47:58:

In Reply to: Re: Oil Rig access could be in jeopardy posted by Nate D on August 31, 2004 at 01:18:25:

Mike and Nate, thanks for your comments. Just so you two know (and for anyone else who's curious), the reason I got involved in all of this is that post-9/11 all dive boat operators were informed by the rigs and USCG that the rigs were strictly off-limits to ALL boats for "security reasons". Needless to say, this affected a number of commercial dive boats and stores/clubs that had been running trips out there. A few operators said, "We shjould try to do something about this," and when no one else stepped to the plate, I made some calls.

About six months later I enered into talks (and conferred about them with boats/shops/clubs) with Aera Energy, the USCG, and the Department of the Interior to see if we could address the security concerns and get the rigs open for diving again. Among the protocols are:

1. Rig diving is to be done only from commercial dive vessels under 100' in length.
2. Vessels had to pre-register (24-72 hours ahead) with both the rigs and the USCG.
3. Diving is limited to between the hours of 8AM-4PM.
4. A manifest has to be available to send to USCG if needed.
5. Bag searches are to be performed (to insure no explosives - don't know what we'd do if we found something) prior to leaving the dock.
6. No more than one boat on one rig at any given time.
7. Dive boat operators will stay in touch with the rigs via radio while on site.
8. Divers are not to make physical contact with the rigs at any time (considered a trespassing violation).
9. Divers are not to take any game of any sort at any time (also considered a trespassing violation).
10. Dive boats will radio the rigs when leaving the site for the day.

Now I'm fully aware that not everyone complies with every one of these protocols. But this was the agreement that we made and these were the rules we agreed to so that we could start diving the rigs again.

And while it may seem unfair that this is intended to be limited to commercial dive boats, the thought was that it was better than no access at all. And it keeps it more manageable for the rigs and the USCG. (And you're certainly free to negotiate your own private deal with Aera.)

I can't explain why Mike's been given permission to dive the rigs, let alone take game. All I can tell you is that based on every discussion I've had with Aera Energy, that shouldn't be happening.

One final thought, and maybe it's just semantics. I've never considered diving the rigs to be a "right". In my mind it's alsways been a privlege. And as such, that means there needs to be some give-and-take between we who dive them and those granting the privlege. Hence, the protocols.

Ken Kurtis
NAUI Instr. #5936
Co-owner, Reef Seekers Dive Co.
Beverly Hills, CA

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