The USCG is proposing to establish safety zones around seven large oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico
, to protect them from marine traffic transiting the fairways to the Mississippi River
The request for the safety zones came from Shell Offshore and includes large rigs producing 100,000 to 250,000 barrels of oil per day.
The seven platforms covered by the proposed rule are Boxer, Bullwinkle, Ursa Tension Leg, West Delta, Mars Tension Leg, Ram-Powell Tension Leg and Auger Tension Leg. All seven are located near navigational fairways.
In each case, the safety zone would extend for 1,640.4 ft. from the outer edges of the structure. Only attending vessels, vessels under 100 ft. not engaged in towing and vessels authorized by the USCG would be allowed within the safety zone.
The proposal reflects the trend in the Gulf of Mexico
to build larger and deeper platforms, which carry a higher potential for environmental damage in the event of an accident involving a vessel.