Basra - Offshore Drillingx

nebraskaboomOil and Offshore

Nov 8, 2013 (3 years and 10 months ago)

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Rekha Basra










January 30, 2011

Offshore Drilling



The 1969 Santa Barbara, 1979 Ixtoc 1, and Exxon Valdez 1989 oils spills and the most
recent
BP
oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
has caused much concern about offshore drilling for oil
and
natu
ral gas for the oil companies, environmental protection agencies,
fisheries
as well as the
consumer public.

Energy independence,

the economy,

global warming, ocean acidification,
environmental
and human health impacts d
ictate the complexity of whether
to drill offshore.
There are also the underlying issues as to why the United States consumes so much oil as well as
the feasibility of alternative energy sources.



Stephen L. Baird argues
for offshore drilling

in
“Offshore Oil Drilling: Buying Energy
Ind
ependence or Buying Time?”
The Technology Teacher

(November 2008). Republished in
Thomas A. Easton,
Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Environmental Issues
, 14
th

Edition, Boston:
McGraw
-
Hill, 2011
.
Pp 134
-
139
.

India and China, as developing countries will ha
ve ever
increasing oil needs. American cannot desert potential oil fields when the stability of the
economy and standard of living is at stake.
Baird addresses the issue of America’s dependence
on foreign oil. He proves that the top two countries that the
Unites States import oil from are
from Canada and Mexico, who are very friendly. When they cannot meet the demands, America
must turn elsewhere. With offshore drilling, the

United States would not feel pressured
to make
agreements with hostile governments
such as Venezuela and Nigeria
.
Offshore drilling will also
decrease the trade deficit which is at a record high. Baird then addresses the
fact that tapping into
offshore oil fields will draw new investments. Investors will feel better when
there is are ste
ady
oil shipments
coming from America, a stable country, versus from the Middle East or South
America, which are frequently under periods of unrest. Finally, Baird states that technological
advances in the oil drilling and refining industry are the safest
and mo
st environmentally friendly
than ever.
Baird finished with saying what needs to change is how America ch
ooses to consume
its oil and not

whether or not oil should remain as a viable energy source.



Baird provides numerous statistics when trying to
prove that offshore drilling is
environmentally safe.
W
hen reporting how many barrels have spilled out of the total amount of
barrels of oil extract
ed, he only uses numbers starting

from 1975
, disregarding

oil spills prior to
that date.
The first offshore
rig was built in 1869. See “Offshore Drilling,” Naturalgas.org (2010)
(
http://www.naturalgas.org/naturalgas/extraction_offshore.asp
).

He is missing 106 years of data.
He states that since 1975, there has been a 0.001 percent pollution rate. As small as th
at is, it in
no way indicates how much damage that pollution has caused. A 0.001 pollution rate could have
the ability to kill off ten species of fish or it could have the ability of only killing one fish.



Mary Annette Rose argues against offshore drill
ing
in “The Environmental Impacts of
Offshore Oil Drilling”
T
he Technology Teacher

(February 2009). Republished in Thomas A.
Easton,
Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Environmental Issues
, 14
th

Edition, Boston: McGraw
-
Hill, 2011. Pp 140
-
145. Rose explains ho
w safely drilling for o
il is dependent on many
fluctuating parameters, such as pressure and temperature. There is never any indication when
there will be a sudden change in pressure. Su
dden changes in pressure due to

build up of high
-
pressure and high
-
temp
erature gases

or

natural disasters all reduce the structural integrity of
pipes and platforms. This ultimately causes blowouts and unleashes thousands upon thousands of
barrels of oil into the ocean. The waste associated with drilling has profound effects.

The
produced water, water mixed with hydrocarbons, is poured into the ocean.
The hydrocarbons as
well as heavy metals in
d
rilling muds
can
migrate as far as several hundre
d meters from the
drilling site

and could deposit up to 45 cm thick.
Hydrocarbons an
d heavy metals

affect the
reproduction and food cycle of species living near a drill. Rose is aware the earth releases more
hydrocarbons into the environment naturally; however,
she notes that
the quick release of
hydrocarbons in an oil spill is detrimenta
l to marine life directly surrounding the spill. Animals
die either due to being covered in oil or by eating oil
-
covered food. The
inhalation

and exposure
to
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons cause a variety of health issues that range from
neurological
def
ects to cancer in both animals and humans.

Rose finally says that offshore drilling sends the
message that it is okay for America to consume so much oil and add to the global warming and
ocean acidification.



Even though Rose provides a tight argum
ent, s
he l
acks some substantial evidence when
talking about the produced water waste.

She never provides the approximate percent of
hydrocarbons, chemical additives, and radioactive materials present

in produced water
.
According to a statistic f
rom 1999, there i
s an estimated 480,000 barrels of produced water being
poured into the ocean or injected into underwater wells

per day
.
If the water is 50%
contaminated then ther
e is 240,000 barrels of these hazardous

chemicals being poured into the
ocean. However if it i
s about 0.000001% then there
are only 0.0048 barrels of hazardous
chemicals being poured into the ocean.



O
ffshore drilling should be
b
anned.
Baird says multiple times that drilling offshore for oil
will allow Americans to maintain their standard of living and economy.
Baird focused on how
investors are the answers to maintain the status quo. O
ffshore drilling will be good for
investment purpose
s

but

will just
worsen America’s dependence on oil. Since oil and gas is such
a profitable business, as long as oil and gas can be extracted from the earth, investors will invest
in it. The time is now to invest in other energy sources and technologies. Am
erica’s entire social
and economic structure is based completely on oil so Baird’s argument is valid. However, the
only way to
the oil crisis is to limit the oil used. This will force advancements in alternative
energy sources. The motivation to limit the
use of oil and restructure society is outlines in Rose’s
arguments. Offshore drilling as well as the burning of oil contributed to global warming, acid
acidification, and ultimately an inhabitable planet for animals, plants, and humans.