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The Effects Of Off Shore Drilling On Marine Ecosystems

1708 words - 7 pages

The environmental impact of the planet is closely related to a problem that arose from the increasing use of Oil: the reduction of emission levels of toxic chemicals and so-called "greenhouse gases", and reducing oxygen levels. Man has caused disasters on ecosystems by killing large number of species of all kinds. Among the most serious disasters that threaten biodiversity are oil spills in the seas and oceans. The contamination by crude oil or refined oil (diesel, gasoline, kerosene and other products obtained by fractional distillation and chemical processing of crude oil) is accidentally or deliberately generated from different sources. Oil pollution comes from oil tankers accidents and leaks in offshore drilling equipment. Another source of pollution comes from land, which is thrown to the ground in cities and industrial zones, which are then carried by underground water streams, ending up in the oceans.
Million tons of crude oil is transported per year across the seas. Unfortunately, accidents do happen at sea and oil spill accidents in the loading and unloading in ports. In addition, due to bad practices, service trucks needed to maintain and clean oil tankers often returned contamined. Other tankers pump oil into the sea as waste. Another form of sea oil pollution comes from gas well drilling and oil in coastal waters and underwater pipes leak. Many of these spills occur in the sea near the coast, which is where naturally inhabit a number of aquatic species and sub-aquatic of all kinds, among which are counted seabirds. One of the most disastrous spill was the one that occurred off the coast of Vancouver, Canada, where the ship crashed and Nestucca spilled 800,000 liters of oil and killed some 40,000 seabirds .Another major disaster was in December 1988 occurred off the coast of Alaska from the Exxon Valdez oil tanker, which spilled over 40,000 gallons of oil, killing more than 30,000 seabirds. And the most recent disaster, the Deepwater horizon oil spill; “The April 20 blowout of BP's undersea well, which killed 11 workers and caused 206 million gallons of oil to spew, was triggered by a bubble of methane gas that escaped from the well and shot up the drill column, expanding quickly as it burst through several seals and barriers before exploding” (PLUSHNICK-MASTI,2010).
Most marine ecosystems exposed to large quantities of crude oil requires about three years to recover. However, marine ecosystems contaminated by petroleum refining, particularly in estuaries, require 10 years or more for recovery. The oil spill caused by the Exxon Valdez oil tanker in Alaska, in 1988, showed traces of oil in marine sediments and tissues of some marine animals, 20 years after the accident. Oil spilled at sea is degraded in a very slow process by bacteria, which can take years to dissolve.
Crude oil varies greatly in composition, which depends on the type of site of origin, but on average it is considered that contains between 83 and 86% carbon and...

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