Offshore Drilling - Essay Example

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The discovery of oil pits by the earliest of civilisations and subsequent utilisation of the highly flammable products served as the cornerstone of the modern oil and gas industry. Over the years, the industry through refined technology has streamlined the extraction, production, and distribution of the critical petroleum products to an ever-growing market. …
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Offshore Drilling
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fshore Drilling The discovery of oil pits by the earliest of civilisations and subsequent utilisation of the highly flammable products served as the cornerstone of the modern oil and gas industry. Over the years, the industry through refined technology has streamlined the extraction, production, and distribution of the critical petroleum products to an ever-growing market. Crude oil drilling in the land wells was the main source of petroleum before companies shifted their attention to explore the seabed, and set up oil well structures in the open sea. This process usually involves geologists to map and confirm the presence of oil deposits in an area of interest. Presently, most of the oil drilling companies have set shop in hostile waters, deeper in the sea, which has resulted in numerous achievements over time in the industry. However, this progress is not without enormous scrutiny owing to concerns ranging from environmental effects to human health. It therefore important to examine the benefits and detriments of offshore drilling with aim of evaluating its sustainability in the long term. Offshore drilling holds a number of benefits to the society with regard to the economic status of the participating nation. Offshore exploration provides employment opportunities in various capacities ranging from primary to tertiary jobs (Mason 12). Offshore oilrigs require specialised technicians, scientists, and labourers. In addition, such exploration activities require supporting services such as health, hospitality, and transport. Similarly, offshore drilling minimises dependency foreign oil, which serves to lower the cost of production. Research also indicates that offshore drilling structures serve as artificial reefs that attract numerous marine life, which facilitates breeding. In spite of the indicated benefits, there exists dire consequences should offshore drilling persist at the current rate. Offshore expeditions pose grave danger to the environment owing various forms of pollution associated with the activity. Offshore exploration carries great risk for accidents such as oil spills, which harm the environment. Currently, environmental degradation is an issue that requires immediate action because of the escalating rate at which it has been occurring, making it hard for the ecosystem to convalesce. Pollution is considered as the major cause of ozone layer depletion owing to the release of chlorofluorocarbons that rise into the troposphere causing its depletion (Fahey and Hegglin 14). Besides facilitating future emission of greenhouse gases, offshore oil facilities often generate enormous volume of these gases during the refinery process. Offshore oil exploration and production employs technology that involves the use of drilling fluids to achieve the desired depths. The fluids (drilling mud) have been illustrated to pose health concerns to life, both human and marine when not correctly handled or disposed of. Scientific evaluation of effluent composition highlight the need for concern. Characterisation of the effluent indicates a mixture of water-based and non-aqueous fluids, which carry the potential to induce toxicity in the affected seabed. Complementary to climate change, the release of such effluent functions to increase the acidity in the water bodies. In turn, the ocean fails in its capacity to act as a carbon sink disrupting the carbon cycle and as carbonate diminishes, marine organisms are affected. The overall effect questions the sustainability of offshore oil wells since organisms critical to formation of oils deposits are destroyed in the exploration process. Concerns have been indicated with regard to bioaccumulation of heavy metals used in drilling fluids, which tend to be illustrated across the food chain (Rose 30). Workers exposed to the chemicals report cases of dermatitis, renal toxicity, and respiratory distress. As such, there are increasing cases of cancer in regions of recent oil spills. Oil spills cause significant harm to marine ecosystems where plants and animal life is disrupted owing to mechanical smothering. During such incidences, plants are often coated with an oil layer, which interrupts respiration and development processes (Rose 30). Besides consuming contaminated food, sea birds affected by oil spills lose their feathers and succumb to hypothermia. Marine animals perish having ingested oil-coated food while others are disoriented owing to the effects of breathing in volatile compounds. As the activities on oilrigs attract marine animals, this phenomenon poses a threat seeing how spills induce genetic mutation, immune suppression, and death. Therefore, it is evident that offshore drilling generates significant environmental concerns that demand redress with a state of urgency. For the negative effects on the environment highlighted, it is only prudent to abandon current offshore drilling and adopt alternative energy. As drastic as the measure may seem, it would reverse the negative effects of global warming and restore the natural carbon cycle. Current efforts being employed in the oil industry should be channelled into the research and development of renewable energy. Works cited Rose, Mary. The Environmental Impacts of Offshore Oil Drilling. The Technology Teacher. 2009. Web. 15 Oct. 13. Fahey, David and Hegglin, Michaela. Twenty Questions and answers about the ozone Layer: 2010 update. 2010. Web. 15 Oct. 13. Mason, Joseph. The Economic Contribution of Increased Offshore Oil Exploration and Production to Regional and National Economies. American Energy Alliance. 2009. Web. 15 Oct. 13. Read More
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