Other Uses for Oil Drilling Platforms

Have any deep-sea oil drilling platforms ever been converted to any other uses, such as a base for deep-sea scientific exploration?
Have any such platforms ever been purpose built specifically for uses other than deep sea oil drilling?
What would be their generic names: Deep-sea Platforms, Ocean Multipurpose Platforms??

Top Secret Gov’t Missions

Not what you where looking for?

I was thinking of ALL uses, besides oil drilling.

One has been converted into a rocket launch platform.

Former pirate radio operator Paddy Roy “Prince Roy” Bates commandeered an abandoned anti-aircraft platform and formed the Principality of Sealand. As told by the Master.

And of course, the mention of Sea Land also brings up another use for such structures: Sea Forts. The British built a series of these during World War II in order to monitor German minelaying around important British waterways.

If I recall correctly, the Iranians did something similar in the 80’s, to support small-boat attacks on merchant ships, & to aid minelaying operations.

And the US Airforce built some in the 50s-60s as part of the NORAD radar grid. With rather less than perfect success, as several broke up during storms.

I thought that they could be converted into gambling, brothels or drug use areas if they were in international waters.

Right now there are a few boats that go out there for gambling reasons, but a stable platform would seem better (seasickness wise). .

Worth mentioning that Sea Forts were not WWII innovation.


Back to the OP… I believe there is at least one oil drilling platform that has been converted to the purpose of pumping CO[sub]2[/sub] into disused oil wells (with a view to reducing the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere)

Mangetout - which platform was converted (just asking)? I am aware Sleipner platform reinjects a lot of the CO2 it strips out of the produced gas and Snohvit land processing plant sends the CO2 back to the offshore production field through a dedicated flowline for reinjection. Both these facilities are still producing, so not sure they could be called ‘converted to other use’ (but i could just be being picky)

CO2 sequestration is certianly a use assuming a suitable injection zone can be found below the platform. One issue is how to get the CO2 back out there. Unused incomming gas pipelines may not be suitable as CO2 under temp pressure with a dash of water becomes horribly horribly corrosive - so special line going out may be needed, could be expensive.

Other glib answers may be
they could be converted into…
…Giant environmental liabilities and decommisoning headaches
…navigational hazards
…prison? Although some of the low end mobile drilling rigs probably wouldn’t pass basic standards for quality of accomodation for a prison.
…Evil super villans secret base for launching world domination attempt
Geuss you could clean off the decks and add a couple of wind generators - probably couldn’t get enough of them on there to make it worthwhile though for a big installation. For Gulf of mexico tehre a lot of very small single wel installations which would be suitable, trouble is the gulf of mexico tends to have no wind, or wind strong enough to tear the damn things off and deposit them back on dry land, not much of a happy sustained medium.

Deepsea reasearch? Well the fixed base type (steel jacket or concrete base) generally dont get into water much deeper than 400-500 feet. Beyond that you get into dynamically positioned floating production facilities or tension legs. But to get down to the bottom you have to send an ROV/net , so the platform has no additional capability over a boat with and ROV and is a lot less mobile.

Maybe sme of the small instalations in shallow water with a low air gap (distance between sea and lowest deck) could be converted into small weekend break fishing spots. Rather than sit on a bit of ice in a small hut dangling a line in the lake you could do the same, there is already a few holes cut in the deck just waiting for a fishing line to be dangled through.

For the mobile units (jack ups and semisubs) well as mentioned before, one semi sub was converted into a rocket launching facility. May be more suitable to deep sea exploration - wasnt the ‘mother ship’ in the film The Abyss a converted semi submersible rig - you could hang a as yet to be made underwater observatory off of one, and also move around the world.
For jack up rigs best thing to convert them into would be scrap metal
Drill ships - well make it anormal ship or again sea exploration or some form of sea bed mining vesel if such a thing ever comes into being. They already have a damn great hole in the middle of them.

just my shallow thoughts.

It’s currently only a plan and it wouldn’t surprise me if it comes to naught, but Mohamed Al Fayed hopes to use a former rig as a luxury hotel.

Cane pole deep sea fishing.

It was Sleipner; it was featured on a BBC documentary (presented by Sir David Attenborough) the other day; but you’re right that it has not been decommissioned, so either they misreported the rig as being no longer in use for extraction, or I merely imagined it.

We reguarly dive on an old drilling platform here in the Gulf of Mexico. After 30 years, it’s a heck of a natural reef! Lotsa critters to see…


I dont have much info on this so sorry, but i do remember reading an article about one company who converted one into a massive data storage/server type thing (sorry not great on the technical details!).

I think the idea was twofold:

  1. The location meant that the data was protected against theft by anyone physically tampering with the equipment (i think the facilities were securely firewalled or maybe even not networked or something).
  2. There was possibly some benefit of being protected from data being inspected by authorities due to jurisdictional issues? So a great place to hold illegal accounts and records of drug deals etc :slight_smile:

That might be Sealand. I read somewhere that Roy Bates was planning to set up a data storage facility as a way to earn money.

Perhaps not the type of answer you were looking for, but it’s interesting to note that a modified oil rig was used as the skeletal structure for the “Tree of Life” in Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.

Hype from a 2000 Wired article:

“…extent of business currently unknown”:

HavenCo Corporate Website:

In 2003, one disgruntled former insider claimed they had 15-20 machines and 10-14 customers.

I’m told by my wife who is in the oil industry that there is a global shortage of rigs right now. So, for the duration, functional rigs unlikely to be put to alternative uses.