The Environmental Impact Of Offshore Drilling Can Be Contolled

2013 words - 8 pages

Petroleum seepages, in some form or another have been around since ancient times for boat caulking, road mending, and as medicine, however, the modern petroleum industry was truly born with the first drilled oil well in August 1859 by Edwin L. Drake at Titusville, PA. (Laudon, 347) At first, in the United States, oil production was controlled by small operators but by the late 1870's John D. Rockfeller had purchased most of the nation's refineries-controlling the United States industry. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1911 split Rockfeller's Standard Oil Trust into three smaller companies; today they are known as Mobil, Chevron, and Exxon. (Lynch, 214) Since that time, oil has become a major part of everyone's way of life. Oil is used to provide fuel for automobiles, tractors, trucks, aircraft and ships. Petroleum products are the basic materials used for the manufacture of synthetic fibers for clothing and in plastics, paints, fertilizers, insecticides, soaps, and synthetic rubber etc... (Lynch, 207) Due to this demand, companies are constantly searching for more oil deposits.

Today the petroleum companies have progressed so much that they are able to drill offshore. The reason that we drill offshore is because approximately one third of the world's oil resides in offshore fields. (Lynch, 213) There are many ways to drill oil from the ocean floor.

 The most common way is to construct a steel drilling platform on the ocean floor. Other ways are, first a jack-up rig which is used in waters of up to 200 feet. The rig rests on a floating platform attached to steel legs that can be jacked up or down. It is moved by workers lowering the platform into the water and jacking up the legs off the ocean floor. Generally, boats tow the rig to the new drilling site. There the legs are lowered to the ocean floor, and the floating platform is jacked up clear of the waters surface. Second, a semisubmersible rig which is used in intermediate water depths (up to 4000 feet). This type of rig has legs filled with air , enabling it to float above the surface of the ocean. Anchors hold the rig in place. Third, drillships are used in water depths of up to 8,000 feet. Anchors cannot be used at such depths so a drillship must use precise, computered navigational procedures to maintain its position above the well site. The derrick and other drilling equipment are mounted on the deck, and the drill pipe is lowered through an opening in the bottom of the ship. Drillships are extremely expensive to operate. (Laudon, 340-341) Fourth, a sub-sea satellite platform, where all of the necessary equipment is located on the ocean bed at the well site. (Lynch, 209-210) Using these four different types of offshore drilling platforms, can contaminate the marine life that inhabits the surrounding waters. The oil companies argue that natural seepage from cracks in the ocean floor are what make up a large percentage of the contamination. For...

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