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Thread: Drilling for crude oil

  1. #1 Drilling for crude oil 
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    Does drilling for crude oil have any negative effects on the surrounding environment? My immediate impression (when seeing crude oil extracted from the ground) is that it doesn't appear particularly damaging.

    Thank you


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  3. #2  
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    It's relatively safe when everything is working. Of course it's potential accidents which are usually the concern. Over land the area can usually be contained if precautions are taken (berms etc). I've flown over the remains of oil wells in Kuwait and the polluted area is usually a bermed pond of less than an acre often much smaller. of At sea of course there's an entirely different set of problems.


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  4. #3  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    There are five potentially damaging aspects of the drilling process.

    1. Aquifer contamination Drilling fluid will penetrate any permeable formation the well is drilled through. If these are not rapidly cased off then contamination of water supplies will occur.

    2. Infrastructure Rigs, production platforms, access roads, pumping stations, pipelines etc all take up space and destroy local environment.

    3. Chemical pollution The fluids used in the drilling process contain a variety of toxic chemicals. At one time the drilled cuttings, coated with these fluids were dumped on the land, or directly into the sea. Tighter controls are applied today, but not universally and not always successfully.

    4. Oil spills In the event of a well kick, or blow out, formation fluids, including oil will invade the surrounding area.

    5. Sound The drilling process is noisy as it makes use of powerful pumps and motors. When the drilling process takes place within, or adjacent to towns, expensive soundproofing is required.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    You cannot drill for oil without having some effect on the environment so it's a question of what society will accept. It's a cost-benefit analysis in which some of the costs are are open to subjective interpretation.
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  6. #5  
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    Subsidence of land can occur if I'm not mistaken
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  7. #6  
    sak
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    Oil consumption is comparatively much more polluting.
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  8. #7  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sak
    Oil consumption is comparatively much more polluting.
    1.Much more polluting than what?
    2. The question was about the environmental impact of drilling for oil, not of consuming it.

    Edited to correct ompact to impact.
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  9. #8  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Presumably he means consumption is more polluting than drilling. But since it can't be consumed unless it's been extracted it seems to be a not very useful distinction.

    One point to consider is that as the "easy" oil is depleted the environmental cost of extraction increases. The oil sands of Alberta consume huge amounts of natural gas to extract the oil, and there are huge tailing ponds that no one yet has figured out what to do with. Shell Oil plans to extract shale oil in the Rockies by inserting electric heaters into the gound, and to us refrigeration plants to freeze the surrounding ground to prevent seepage, which will use large amounts of electric power.

    All of this means the energy used, and the CO2 released, and the water consumed are much greater than in the good old days when oil just squirted out of the Texas and Oklahoma soil.

    We simply need to use less.
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