Environmental effects of oil, Benefits and Disadvantages:Oil has a huge impact on the world, environmentally, socio-culturally and politically. Environmentally, oil has 3 main benefits and 4 main disadvantages. Let’s start with disadvantages. Firstly, when we use seismic imaging to locate oil underwater, the sound waves can completely drive out other marine life because it frightens them. This will cause migration of some species, which can disrupt food chains and alter ecosystems. Another devastating impact that oil has is that Oil sands production requires an extremely large quantity of water.
In general it takes about 2 to 4.5 barrels of water for 1 barrel of oil. While much of this water is recycled and used many times over, the oil sands use more water per year than the entire city of Calgary. Less water is available for marine life in that river, which can cause competition for water in rivers, and will ultimately lead to less biodiversity. Therefore water supplies from the river has to be distributed in a way that properly balances oil sands production needs with ecosystem and human needs in the region. Finally, mining and drilling permanently changes Earth’s surface. This affects local species and ecosystems.
Fracking and extracting oil from oil sands use huge amounts of water. The tailings from extractions are often toxic. They can leak and pollute the groundwater and surface water systems.
As you may know, oil spills can annihilate almost all biotic life from vegetation, to marine life to aerial animals and even humans. Oil spills can react with vegetation and negatively impact it, it can strip birds of their flying abilities and cause marine life to sink and eventually drown or starve. Scientists concluded that the Gulf war oil spill wasted 250 million litres of oil and killed over 100 000 different forms of biotic life! Surprisingly, there is a bright side to this. Studies have proven that the oil drilling caused a reduction in subsurface reservoir pressure, which resulted in a decrease in the hydrocarbon seepage rate.
Offshore oil and gas production can actually improve the marine environment. Seeps pollute the ocean and beaches, sicken surfers, and are a significant source of air pollution.The decrease in hydrocarbon seepage, possibly due to the reduction in subsurface reservoir pressure, suggests that oil production has resulted in an unexpected benefit to the atmosphere and marine environment. Another unexpected fact is that coal (anthracite,bituminous,lignite and subbituminous) produces an average of 2236 million tonnes CO2, while oil only produces 1846 million tonnes CO2. Even though nuclear reactors only produce 76 million tonnes, processing deals an immense effect on the environment, more than oil does. The more CO2 a source produces, the more devastating impact on the environment it does. Overall we can say that Oil does not affect the environment much when compared to other fossil fuels. A final benefit is that technologies such as horizontal drilling, which increase the efficiency of exploration helps to reduce effects on the environment.
Technologies such as Satellites, Global positioning systems, remote sensing devices, and 3-D and 4-D seismic technologies make it possible to discover oil reserves while drilling fewer wells. The use of horizontal drilling makes it possible for a single well to produce a much larger amount, much larger area. Socio-cultural effects of oil, Benefits and Disadvantages:Now, let’s explore the socio-cultural effects of oil. There are 3 main advantages and 3 main disadvantages. This time, we’ll start with the advantages. Increased domestic fuel production has lead to reduction in imports and has also lowered national prices for crude oil and price of gasoline at the gas station.
To summarize this, the more oil is produced, the less we have to pay and the less is imported from other countries. This in turn will save fuel for oil transportation (because we are not importing fuel from another country possibly in another continent). In addition, oil has lead to skill development of people, educational growth of people, and opportunity to train people in sustainable workforce. This is due to the fact, we need engineers and specialized workers to tend to the oil sites. We are bringing specialized workers in from other countries and are increasing workforce and the government is reaping more taxes, which are going to infrastructure and research and development. As you may have concluded, oil production has created tens of thousands of new job opportunities, some low paying while some higher paying. Demand for oil workers leads to an increase in population, which brings us to the disadvantages.
When workers are immigrating to oil sites, small towns surrounding the oil sites become overpopulated because of the sudden increase in human population. This can pose a threat to public safety, and increases local crime. Another disadvantage is that oil drilling can also destroy cultural resources/artifacts, such as historical trails or traditional lands. Locals will rebel and take serious offense to this, and charges may be applied to the oil drilling companies.
To add to this, during construction of pipelines, burying sites may be disturbed which will again offend the locals. Vibration, resulting from increased traffic and drilling/development activities, may also have effects on sites with standing architecture. Small towns faced with sudden rapid growth will affect communities’ health and social infrastructure because those small towns will not have enough hotels, hospitals etc, (population:buildings ratio is increasing) for everyone.
A final disadvantage is that industrial camps are generally used at the oil sand development sites. These camps are used because oil sites are usually located away from residential homes and workers on scene don’t have anywhere else to stay (Engineers and project managers usually stay further from the oil site). Workers at industrial camps may drop a burning cigarette/cigar or start a campfire which can spread to the nearby wilderness and start a forest fire. However, the forest fire isn’t the biggest threat. The industrial camps are within a Km of the oil site, so any fire started may reach the oil, and as you may have predicted, the oil will react with fire and a huge explosion will be triggered.
Not only will this seriously injure or kill anyone on scene, but too much oil will be wasted. Therefore, there are several threats to oil drilling socio-culturally. Political effects of oil, Benefits and Disadvantages: