Negative And Positive Sides Of Offshore Oil Drilling

Offshore drilling has been a vital means of gasoline and oil production for many years in America and all over the world. The process of drilling for oil in the ocean has been one of the greatest technological breakthroughs in the past few decades. The act of drilling for oil has been around for hundreds of years, but the process of extracting oil from beneath the seafloor was not perfected or effective until forty years ago. The process of offshore drilling is when engineers drill holes through the seabed, which then creates the opportunity to extract oil and natural gas. The extracted oil comes from the rocks beneath the seabed. This oil is extremely valuable worldwide, especially in the USA, and is a major ingredient in the production of petroleum products. Offshore drilling first started in 1911 off the coast of Louisiana. With that in effect, there was a rise in sales of automobiles with this newfound oil. Soon after, on September 10, 1960, The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, was created at the Baghdad Conference. This had many countries involved, such as Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. In just the Gulf of Mexico, there are many offshore gas operations going on, with about 200 oil rigs, which facilitate the production of these petroleum products. However, offshore drilling has been one of the most controversial issues all over the world, especially in the United States.

President Trump, his administration, and many world leaders argue that offshore drilling is necessary to achieve maximum oil extraction and cheaper gas rates. This need is supported and explained by the fact that global reserve facilities are dramatically declining. On the other hand, many contend that offshore drilling will threaten the treasured oceans and water, poison and degrade the surrounding communities, and harm multitudes of wildlife that comes with the inevitable oil spills. Offshore drilling has a major negative impact on the water, ocean floor, air quality and marine ecosystems. My own view is that the Trump administration and world leaders should focus on how offshore drilling is a dangerous process where the negative effects far outweigh the short-term positive economics. To understand why offshore drilling, an extremely controversial issue in today’s world, one must understand and be able to dissect the process of it. Oil is made of plants and animals that died millions of years ago, and as time passes, these remains are buried deeper beneath the ocean floor. When heat and pressure are added, hydrocarbons are created from the carbon in the plant and animal remains. These hydrocarbons are the main ingredient of crude oil. The process of oil drilling starts off with the core of having an oil rig installed. The rig is very stable and can be supported several hundred meters in the ocean. The step right before the drilling occurs must be the step where an oil and gas 'trap' must first be located in the ocean. Although locating these traps are very difficult because of the great depths of the water and poor visibility, engineers have created a seismic surveying, a system, which analyzes and finds a safe and stable area where there may be oil to drill up from beneath the surface. The tough part is that the engineers are not certain whether there is oil until they penetrate the trap with a drill.

The technology behind the drill occurs above the surface in which advanced computer technology uses a navigation device. This sends information to the controller, which allows the engineers to have the exact location to which the oil is believed to be. Then steam is forced down the trap, which causes the oil to come up the trap. Once the oil is removed from the earth, it is transferred to a refinery. With the understanding of how offshore drilling occurs, one can clearly see how there are many risks the engineers take when drilling holes in the ocean. The dangers involved in the deep-sea oil drilling are evident and should not be ignored. This understanding of the process and how it may affect our environment helps in educating people and reducing environmental hazards associated with oil spills. For example, there have been many beautiful tourist locations that are now becoming less attractive and appealing to people, especially the adults and young children that love to play in the water. Sadly, this is a result of all the oil spills and toxins that are released from drilling into the ocean. This creates a much less appealing look for families to go visit and results in lower tourist rates. Lower tourist rates result in lower economic development and revenue which are both big contributions to our life today. More importantly the effect on the surrounding environment is disastrous and is one of the most compelling reasons to argue against offshore drilling. Throughout the entire drilling process, there are toxins being released into the ocean such as zinc, chromium, lead, arsenic, and mercury. Once these substances are extracted, they freely roam the ocean and contaminate the water at devastating rates. This results in a significant amount of deaths from the poison and toxins. So, the process of offshore drilling, an industrialized activity, creates tremendous challenges faced by many animals. Furthermore, oil spills contribute to a tremendous amount of negative effects of offshore drilling. An oil spill can result in significant long-term damage, unlike the immediate damage the animals face. A major example of this is the Exxon Valdez accident. On March 24, 1989, a ship full of oil hit a reef, in which eleven million gallons of oil were spilled. This caused thousands of sea otters and birds died from exposure to the oil spill. Also, billions of animal eggs were being destroyed from the oil contamination. Even many years after the spill occurred, which happened in 1989, the harlequin ducks and sea otters had high death rates. This was caused by the fact that these animals, unfortunately, ate from contaminated soil and water. It is so extreme that the simple process of an animal grooming itself caused contamination from their own oils. These oil spills are even worse when there are birds or any type of animals that breeds or migrates because of how they contaminate anywhere they go. The direct impact of the oil on animal’s skins are the immediate removal of their thermal insulation. Also, with oil being a heavy substance, it may also weigh the animals down and cause them to have hypothermia or drown themselves. It is possible that an organism can immediately die from exposure to an oil spill. However, there are instances in which the animal can suffer for weeks or even months.

During this torturous time before their death, the exposure to toxins and oil can cause the animals to have major damage to their immune system and can be as harmful as dysfunctionality of the lungs and the liver. Even worse is the fact that as time goes on, the animals get even worse. It can even cause complications of the animal’s normal day to day activities such as reproducing and finding shelter and food. Therefore, not only are they fighting the toxins and oil that’s in them, but also the struggle of finding food and a place to sleep safely. Another sickening effect of an oil spill is how ocean currents spread the oil and toxic substance over a large area of water. A prime example is the Shell oil spill in 2010 in which it spread for many miles to the Wainwrights region in north Alaska. The Shell drilling rig called, the Kulluk, lost hold of one of the towing ships on the southeast coast of Sitkalidak Island. More than 150,000 gallons of diesel fuel was lost and released into the freezing cold waters. Despite the harms, offshore drilling proponents believe it is vital for the world and its future. There has been an increased demand for retrieving oil. With people in the U. S using oil every single day from day to day activities such as heating homes and powering cars, the need for oil is needed now more than ever. Offshore oil drilling is playing a huge and significant role in providing for the increased and ongoing demand for the crude oil. Not only does it supply or demand, but also benefits our energy and industrial economics. Despite this necessity of oil, Earth's' natural resources, oil, specifically, are extremely limited, meaning is not a renewable resource. By focusing on the short-term economic gain and satisfying the demand, the people insistent on oil drilling overlook the deeper problem of offshore drilling. Although the demand for oil is increasing at an exponential rate, there is no reason not to believe that resources are depleting and even worse is the fact of what might happen in the future. However, that still does not take the fact away that oil drilling is hazardous to our oceans and bodies of water. While there are many resources used in the world today, oil stands at the top of the use of energy in the U. S. Also, the U. S obtains about 140 billion worth of its oil supply every day from dangerous and unstable regions like Mexico and the Middle East. This implicates the option of offshore drilling a much more dependable compared to what crisis the U. S may get when dealing with these foreign countries. The dependence on foreign oil makes the U. S. vulnerable to fluctuations in global supply and demand, which is the cause of higher gas rate.

Although this may be true, once the U. S. runs out of oil from our drilling sites, the U. S. will go straight back to foreign countries to retrieve more oil. The problem with offshore drilling is that the long-term effects are not considered. For example, travel and tourism account for about $5. 2 billion industry in Rhode Island (CNBC). This industry gives almost 41,000 jobs but can disappear in a blink of an eye because of its dependency on the coastal economy (CNBC). Not only that, but “commercial seafood sales generated about $290 million in 2015 and $105 million in income” (CNBC). Imagine if there was a tiny oil spill. Not only will it affect the coastal industry, which will cause many people to lose their jobs. This creates less revenue for the companies and fathers and mothers that are not able to support their families anymore. The oil drilling process continues to gain in popularity around the world. New oil rigs are constantly being constructed to increase the production of oil. Even though oil drilling may seem to improve our economy by having cheaper gas and our own source of oil, there is a more drastic impact on the marine ecosystem and environment at large. The toxins that are released into the bodies of water kill and torture the animals and the environment. It is common knowledge that offshore drilling will definitely cause some accidents to occur, which is clearly evident in the accidents in the past. Then it spreads, and pollution occurs in which contamination spreads everywhere, resulting in mortality and contamination of fish and other animal species. Although many people see offshore oil drilling as a critical source of energy for the U. S and countries worldwide, the negative impact that it has on the environment and ecosystem is inevitable. We must all as one-unit work together to accomplish one common goal. E. O. Wilson, the author of the letter Apocalypse Now once said, “I suggest that we set aside our differences in order to save the creation. ”

In this letter, Wilson talks about the creation and the experiences the earth has had to endure and how humans are a huge part of it. National governments all over the world, oil companies, and even people in local coastal communities should come together as a unified force to find a solution for oil drilling on the environment, which will guarantee the protection and conservation of the environment including better benefits for our oil industry.

10 December 2020
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