Artificial Reefs in Brunei are reefs of convenience. Its wrecks are tourist attractions and fish aggregators, its oil rigs similarly purposed but additionally marketed as Corporate Social Responsibility. Gas and oil interests save money on a decommissioned rig they’d otherwise have to remove, and get awards for their “environmental efforts.” I’ve discussed Brunei’s wrecks already and (with grudging anachronism) I’ll return for a more rigorous analysis of Rigs2Reefs later this year. Here’s the short version:
In the installation of the Baram-8 rig in the South China Sea, Petronas Gas and Shell coordinated with Malaysia’s fisheries department and Ministry of Tourism to relocate a collapsed rig structure once used in oil extraction. From there, a Malaysian fisheries officer who I’ll refer to as David, coordinated site assessment and implementation of the artificial reef. David, whose generosity motivated my flight from Brunei to Sabah, benefitted from this otherwise stressful process, identifying himself as the “new face of artificial reefs in Malaysia” and the first person to manage a R2R project start to finish. Ironically, fishermen are restricted from entering the vicinity of an active rig, where fish schools are so abundant oil companies were inspired to start the R2R program.
While in Brunei, I became familiar with around 15 local wrecks and the Bruneian rig. I lived within a society subsidized by an extractive industry, where the decision to drive is easy to make. I painted, and ran, and was isolated. I drove south to Miri, dove the rig the ministry of tourism renamed “Kenyalang Reef,” and had my first alcoholic drink in a month. I listened to the entirety of Serial alone and lost a friend to aneurism. A dog stole my wallet. David was about to leave the country when I called to interview him, and invited me along to Semporna, Malaysia, to observe how he and his team employ artificial reefs. 5 hours later I was packed. I’d been ready to leave Brunei for weeks.
The oil rig reef in Miri had poor visibility but is still a good case study. Sea below (heh):