CFACT members from University of Louisiana, Lafayette recently went on an exciting tour of an oil rig in southern Louisiana at the International Petroleum Museum and Exposition (www.rigmuseum.com). The rig, named “Mr Charlie” rests on the banks of the Atchafalaya River. It was the world’s first transportable, submersible drilling rig when it was built in 1953.
Mr. Charlie kept drilling until 1986, and was retired only because it had sucked all of oil that could be sucked out of the Gulf of Mexico within waters 40 feet deep, which was the length of Mr. Charlie’s legs.
The success of this rig made possible the entire offshore oil-drilling industry. Although the rig isn’t new, it was still incredibly interesting to be able to walk around and learn up close how everything operates. Our tour guide was AWESOME and answered all of our questions. CFACT chapter leader Jacques commented, “I felt that this tour was extremely informative. I would recommend it to everyone to tour it for themselves and see how these men and women that work in this industry are contributing enormously to our economy and way of life. The most amazing thing is that they tap into these resources in a clean and incredibly environmentally friendly way.”
Many people have misconceptions when it comes to drilling for oil, thinking it is terrible for the environment, but after touring the rig and learning how everything is actually done, any previous misconceptions are gone. For example, the drilling platforms are the best area to go fishing around. Why? Because huge reef systems grow around the oil platform, spawning incredible amounts of fish and other sea creatures. Who would have thought a drilling platform would be helping native life in the ocean?
Our tour guide made an excellent case for the need to be able to do more off shore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, pointing out that the dangers of polluting are much higher in the transporting of the oil, NOT the drilling of the oil, so when we are buying so much oil from foreign countries, we are taking more of a risk of polluting because the oil has to be transported from so far away. He also talked about how there is so much oil out in the Gulf of Mexico, yet rigs are unable to tap into most of it because of government regulations. So much was illuminated to us on the tour! It is sad to know that the majority of Americans have a very misconstrued perception of the oil industry. We all agreed that our elected leaders should come down to Morgan City and visit Mr. Charlie themselves.