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How Oil Drilling Works Essay

1610 words - 6 pages

People in the U.S. use oil every day. Powering cars, heating homes, and providing electricity are just a few examples of how we use oil fuels in our daily life. Where would we be if we woke up tomorrow and couldn't fly because there was no fuel, or products containing plastic were taken off the market? "In fact, oil is a part of everyday items such as crayons, bubble gum, and deodorant (Mooney 19). Oil is the number one source of energy in the U.S. today. However, the U.S. imports 140 billion worth of its oil supply every day from unstable regions such as Canada and Mexico (news desk). This makes our addiction to oil an even more dangerous game. Dependence on foreign oil, also leaves the U.S. vulnerable to fluctuations in global supply and demand, which in turn could lead to higher prices (Mooney 22). As the future approaches and our dependency on oil is set to increase, a closer look at the environmental, economic, and socio-political risks is demanded and identifying alternative sources of energy is urgent.
Oil is made from the remains of plants and animals that died millions of years ago. As time goes by, these remains are gradually buried deep underground, beneath layers of rock and under oceans and seas. When heat and pressure are applied, the carbon in the plant and animal remains changes into hydrocarbons, which is the main ingredient of crude oil. To find oil, scientists study rock samples from the earth in a particular area. Once a promising site has been found, a well is drilled and a pump is placed over it. Steam is forced down the well, which pushes the oil up into the first well. Once the oil is removed from the earth, it is transported to a refinery. Some research suggests people subjected to these chemicals have increased cancer risks and other chronic health hazards. Petroleum extraction, defined as the exploration, production, and distribution of oil, comes in many different shapes and sizes these days; as well as many different types of pollution occur that aid these health hazards. As history has shown, the refining and transporting of oil can sometimes end up releasing oil into the ocean as well. Oil is drilled from the ocean floor through powerful offshore oil rigs. Natural seeps can also occur. This is when crude oil that seeps in the ocean water from geologic formations beneath the ocean floor. Despite these risks, the growth of the global oil businesses continue to grow and our need, and ultimately our dependency on it, grow right along with it.
Arguably, the greatest impact of off-shore drilling on the environment is indisputable. There are 3,500 drilling rigs and platforms, 79 of them deep-water wells, in the United States alone (CBSNews). Many of these off-shore rigs are located in the Gulf of Mexico and directly impact these ecosystems with negative impacts ranging from black carbon to blowouts (Oceana). However, larger impacts can be catastrophic such as the 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig...

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