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The Effects Of Offshore Rig In The Gulf Of Mexico On The Environment

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The deep sea offshore drilling rig project in the gulf of Mexico poses major and potential environmental effects due its large scale. The project is to drill 15 wells in nearly two miles of water, three miles of sea floor, in an 18 square miles of gas field. The project is proposed to lay pipelines connecting each well to a central processing platform, install cables along the pipeline so that engineers on the platform can control flow of gas from each well, drive massive pilings to anchor the central processing platform to the ocean floor and lastly, build a larger pipeline to deliver the gas processing platform 135 miles to land.

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Prior to drilling the 15 wells in the gulf, the effect of seismic exploration of the hydrocarbon which involves firing guns into the seabed could affect the hearing capacity of the aquatic lives that live in close proximity. In the discovery of hydrocarbon deposits, exploration wells are drilled with the help of drilling mud. These drilling muds which are made of hazardous chemicals are dumped into the sea which possess serious and deadly concern to the aquatic life upon skin contact or inhalation. During the cement job to stabilize the casing in the wellbore of the three miles seafloor, cement contaminants will be discharged in the sea posing severe danger to the sea life. Connecting pipelines on the seabed of about 18 square miles of gas field and a 135 miles of piping connecting the platform to the processing facility onshore also pose an environmental danger of destabilized aquatic habitat, where animals lay their eggs and nurture their young. This will greatly reduce the sea life population within the surrounding environment.

The 18 square miles and 135 miles of piping in the sea also poses environmental danger as it will start to corrode and release an increased level of dangerous metal that are harmful to the sea quality and aquatic life. The solitaires vessel upon which pipelines are been connected by welding will also discharge it toxic waste in the ocean. The amount of water that will be used to conduct a hydrostatic test on the pipeline will also be discharged in the sea, which will all further pollute the surrounding environment. There is also a possible danger to seabird during and after the construction of the deep sea rig, as they might have a lethal collision with the rig suspended above sea level. If there is a leakage or explosion from the gas reservoir, the danger will not be limited to aquatic life, because of ocean current, the contamination will reach the shores and endanger terrestrial animals as well. The initial processing of the natural gas at the platform/wellhead will also discharge CO2 and H2S into the atmosphere thereby polluting the atmosphere. The produced underground water along with the natural gas will also be discharged into the sea, polluting the aquatic life and contaminating the ocean.

Long after the drilling is abandoned, the actual footprint of the contaminated seabed, suspended metal pieces, the discharge of hazardous waste during operation, and the inhabitable environment left by rig will be felt for years in to the future.

01 April 2020

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