The Environmental Impact Of Off Shore Oil Exploration And Production

3956 words - 16 pages

The extraction of oil onshore has been ongoing for several decades. Offshore oil extraction is a process that began decades after onshore exploration had begun. For many years, scientists and the oil companies were certain that the exploration and production of petroleum from deep-water formations would not incur any sort of environmental damages. Several decades later, scientists learned new information from monitoring programs and research studies that offshore drilling did cause effects on the health of benthic organisms and other marine fauna in the proximity of offshore platform rigs.

This paper studies the consequences of offshore platform rigs on marine organisms and wildlife from the perspectives of what causes environmental degradation offshore, the issues pertaining to marine life, and the detriment incurred by oil exploration and production (E & P). This paper begins with a brief explanation of how the oil industry works and how a well is chosen, drilled, and put into production. Subsequently, I present the four major externalities from offshore oil E & P: (1) drilling muds and cuttings, (2) waters, (3) chronic oil spills, and (4) possible socio-economic disturbances. The final section of this research study presents concluding remarks.

Quick overview of oil Exploration and production
Oil companies performing exploration and production services belong in the ‘upstream’ area of the business. Upstream oil companies such as Exxon, Shell, and BP, among others, lease the services from ‘service companies’ to perform the actual drilling of the well. Pride International, Halliburton, Baker and BJ are a few major service companies. Pride International performs drilling worldwide, both onshore and offshore. Companies like Halliburton cement and stimulate oil wells.

Several previous levels precede the process of actually drilling the oil well. This process begins when the oil company’s exploration manager studies an area in particular. Once the oil company obtains the lease for the area planned for development, the site is examined thoroughly, seismic sampling is performed, the first exploratory drilling takes place (in order to know if the well contains oil and will be of economic benefit) and finally, the well is put into production.

II. Environmental Issues

Externalities from oil extraction
Offshore oil and gas exploration and production cause several environmental externalities. Various operations in offshore rig platforms pertain to exploration and hydrocarbon extraction: perforation, cementation, stimulation, and transportation. The use of the facility and the living environment of the engineers at these offshore bases can also impact the environment.

Once the location has been decided and the company has been granted permission through Federal leasing for the operations, the platform is located. The platform rig location can cause environmental impacts. The platform rig location can cause...

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