Special Dives & Events

Oil Rig Diving

Oil Rig Diving

Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed. ~Hunter S. Thompson, an American author and journalist.

Southern California has quite the history with over 25 oil platforms located along our coastline from Santa Barbara to Huntington Beach; that history ranges into the offshore drilling debate discussions that are best left for another day on land.  If you're interested in the history of offshore oil platforms and drilling, checkout these resources for some interesting reading.
Review of California's Rig to Reef Law
Comparisons Among Platforms and Natural Reefs
How do Platforms get named?
Overnight on an Oil Platform

As divers, oil rigs provide an artificial reef for marine life that can provide for a spectacular adventure.  There can be surprise visits from large to small swimming pelagic fish from moola mola, sharks, rays, sardine, mackerel and barracuda. Sea lions are common residents as well. You may also see dolphin, jellyfish and the local cormorant bird dive bombing for a treat. The platforms are full of marine life from the typical southern California starfish, Garibaldi, rock fish, sheep head, opal eye, blacksmith and cabezon fish.  The more mind-blowing awe inspiring moments are the marine life that clings and has become part of the structure from the encrusted huge sick amounts of colorful anemones, brittle stars, mussels and barnacles to huge white medridiums and plentiful scallops. Macro photographers are in for a test of what not to shoot.  For the wide angle shots the cross beams, and legs create endless opportunities for framing.

Diving oil platforms requires the mastery of good diving skills from a diver and has experience in variety of  local ocean conditions. You may encounter on the surface and/or at depths a variety of mild to strong surge, currents, dramatic thermoclines, algae blooms and limited visibility.  It is best to stay within the area of the rig structure; it is important if you lose sight of the structure, you need to come up and do not drift away.  Platforms are in the open sea and neutral buoyancy, watching your depth and time are absolutely critical. Get a guided dive from an experience dive professional on your first dive and call the dive if conditions change suddenly.  All divers should carry a surface marker that can be deployed from depth, in case they become separated from the rig and must make a safety or decompression stop in open water.  A primary and backup light are recommended as well.

Boat Entries & Exits - all boats operate differently, so make sure to review and be familiar with each boat's procedures. Since it is too deep to anchor, on a oil rig dive, the boat will pull up idling near the rig to drop the divers off on the up current side of the rig, and then pick the divers up on the down current side.

Platform Grace (Located in eastern Santa Barbara Channel) Installed 1979

Grace is an oil rig that sits between Santa Barbara Harbor and Anacapa Island. The platform sits in about 318 feet of water. The Operator is Venoco. Grace sent wet oil and gas to Platform Gail and pass through of wet oil and gas from Platform Gail to the CPF, Carpenteria Processing Facility. (Platform Grace ceased production in 1998)

Platforms: Elly and Ellen, and Eureka (located southwest of Huntington Beach, 8 miles)

Elly and Ellen are unusual because they are two platforms connected by a bridge; max depth is about 260 feet. Eureka is the deepest platform locally accessible to divers at 720 feet at depth.

Here's another interesting chart from NOAA.

Want to join our next Oil Rig Dive?  Check the Calendar or contact us for more information.