Mercurial Essays

Free Essays & Assignment Examples

Research Paper For Group Project Rough Draft

We as Americans have a comfortable lifestyle. A large part of which comes from using natural resources. There are a lot of reasons why earth conscious people would want to prevent oil drilling in an area that is protected called The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Spills are probably the first thing on anyone’s mind when they talk about oil drilling and transportation. So why would anyone, besides greedy, millionaire oil company executives, want to drill and transport oil? Drilling for oil can bring many benefits, both economically and politically, to America.

It creates jobs and can make us less dependent on foreign oil. Also, in the last two decades there have been many laws and reforms to improve the drilling transport, and cleanup of oil. These insure a greatly reduce possibility of harmful contamination to the Earth as a whole. We Americans have a comfortable lifestyle, for the most part. A large part of being comfortable comes from the use of natural resources. Freon keeps your refrigerators and homes cool in the summer. Liquid propane, kerosene, and other natural gases keep your houses warm in the winter.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

Oil is used for so many products it is mudslinging. Not only is it used to create the gasoline, et fuel, diesel, and other fuels to propel our transportation, but is used to lubricate those engines as well. It’s not just transportation engines it is used to lubricate; it is used for lubrication in all sorts of everyday equipment you wouldn’t think about. Factories use it daily to keep their machines running so they can produce all sorts of your favorite objects; even some of the food you buy at the supermarket at some point went through a machine that used oil to lubricate its parts.

On top Of that, but the trucking industry transports 90% of goods in value (IRU. Org). You would not be able to even receive those favorite objects and food if not for oil. BP estimates that the world has only 53 years of oil left in the world (USA today), with the drilling in NEAR we could potentially increase that time by three years. In numbers: the Energy Information Administration estimates the US consumes 20. 8 million barrels of oil a day (Egret). The NEAR has a 5% chance of containing more than 25 billion barrels of oil (near. Org).

This would also decrease our dependency on foreign oil. During his campaign for president, John McCain said he would like to do more drilling to “stop sending $700 billion a year (for oil) to countries hat don’t like us very much” (Egret). That is a lot of money spent to outsource a product that we potentially have large quantities of if we would just utilize it. It is also estimated that there is over a trillion fit of natural gas in the NEAR (near. Org). Because of the oil currently being drilled in Alaska, the local populace benefits greatly.

I personally received a dividend at tax time in 2007 of almost $2300 as a single male as a result of this dividend. The money peaked in 2008 with an average of $3269 a person; that averaged out to be about $1 6,345 for a family of five (cubism. Net). But Alaskan are the only ones hat will benefit financially by accessing this oil, by accessing these resources we could lower the price of both fuel at the pump and fuel for the home. This project would also provide hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs with only a minimal amount of land (APPC. 8%) would be utilized during the operations of drilling (near. Rig). The NEAR is 30, 136 square miles, 8% comes out to be about 2411 square miles that would be used. The thought of an oil spill over any amount of land or water is troubling-? however, should that occur, the advances in the transportation and clean up of oil have made the possibility f an oil spill almost minimal. “Since the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, anyone responsible for the spill has to pay for cleaning up contaminated water and soil. A responsible party under the POP is anyone – including corporations and other businesses – who had a hand in the spill (environmental- law-lawyers. Mom)”. So companies have a reason to keep up-to-date technology in the prevention and cleanup of oil as they “are responsible for the safety and reliability of their pipeline systems and they are rigorously audited by a host of agencies” (shell pamphlet). Pipelines have several efferent ways of detecting leaks using computer technology. They include “mass balance and real transit modeling (shell PDF pamphlet)” where sensors detect the flow and input of substances and when it gets off the system alerts the correct people who will then take action.

Tanker ships are required to have a double hull. This means that there is a “7-10 foot” space between the outer hull and the inner hull to help absorb the impact should that happen. The inner hull then houses the storage area where the oil sits. So really there are three layers of metal between the outside impact and the oil itself. This loud not have been the case in the Valued incident as that was in 1 989 AD, a year before the POP, and these laws, were enacted. The largest oil spill in US history could have been avoided if the double hull had been utilized.

The cleanup of oil spills has been advanced a lot since 1990 AD as well. One way is to use ‘”booms’ or ‘skimmers’ to collect oil on top of the water. The collected oil is then stored until it can be disposed of’ (environmental-law. Lawyers. Net). A fairly new way to clean up is highly promoted by a company called Premeditation. They use offer a “ecologically safe and natural process” that s “generally 60-70% less costly than other tech analogies” and “poses no health or safety risks to employees” leaving “the environment is virtually restored to its pristine condition” (preconditioning. Com).

There is even talk of using micro robotics that could be deployed to clean up oil spills. They would be able to absorb “up to 20 times their weight. Powered by solar panels, the low- cost robots which are designed to work in fleets, would use GAPS and wireless communication systems to navigate a spill site (zest. Com). ” These offer acceptable solutions should an oil spill occur. The economical and political unifies of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could potentially outweigh the hazards of drilling there. This would benefit all Americans in both unemployment rates and finances In fuel costs.

We would not have to depend so much on oil from the middle east, and therefore could keep more currency exchange within the US. And in the event of an oil spill current technology can help significantly reduce the damage done to the environment. On the other hand, however, others argue that regardless of the company and its individual preparation there are multiple risks inherit in individualizing of one of the few remaining unspoiled corners of the planet. Regardless of the company and its individual preparations, there are multiple risks inherent in industrialization one of the few remaining unspoiled corners of the planet.

Not only does the Arctic have inadequate infrastructure to deal with an oil spill, but also response technologies in such extreme environmental conditions remain untested and unproven. Extreme and unpredictable weather conditions complicate transportation, preparedness, operations, and cleanup Of spilled Oil to an even greater degree. The Alaskan Arctic is characterized by extreme cold, extended seasons of darkness, hurricane-strength storms, and pervasive fog -? all affecting access and working conditions. The Chichi and Effort Seas are covered by varying forms of ice for eight to nine months a year.

These conditions limit exploratory drilling and many other activities to the summer months. The icy conditions during the rest of the year pose severe challenges for oil and gas operations and scientific research. And oil spill response efforts are complicated year-round by the remote location and the presence of ice, at all hashes of exploration and possible production. Largely untouched by industrial activity, much of the Arctic region remains a mystery. The area is home to numerous indigenous communities that have subsisted for centuries in the harshest surroundings our planet has to offer.

It also serves as a habitat for some Of the most rare and fragile species on the planet. Any drilling activity in the region would be operating without sufficient scientific knowledge to determine the potential effects of operations on the already fragile ecosystem. A 201 0 report released by the U. S. Geological Survey identified major gaps in Arctic science and research and emphasizing that “significant questions” remain regarding the scientific and technical information needed to adequately prepare for drilling in the challenging Arctic environment.

An independent review commissioned by the Pew Environment Group and Ocean Conservancy in 2011 took the Geological Survey analysis a step further, recommending concrete next steps such as developing a comprehensive research and monitoring plan and setting aside significant areas for protection -? that should be taken before moving forward with potentially damaging industrial activity in the region.

Despite these concerns, and after multiple delays due to the erratic weather and failure to receive Coast Guard certification of its oil spill response barge, Shell received approval from the Department of the Interior to drill two preparatory wells in the Arctic Ocean last summer. Though the two “top holes” were completed without incident, the operations surrounding Shell’s Arctic program were nothing short of a disaster.

The company twice lost control of its Arctic drilling rigs, had its oil spill response equipment “crushed like a beer can” in tests in Upset Sound, and was cited for multiple safety and environmental violations -? now the subject of an investigation that the Coast Guard handed over to the Department of Justice to assess potential civil or criminal charges.

Moreover, the region’s rapid loss of snow and ice has a snowball effect that speeds melting: The decrease in sea ice cover, snow cover, glaciers, and Greenland ice sheet means that the bright, white surfaces that reflect summer sunlight are being replaced by darker surfaces -? ocean and land -? that absorb sunlight. These conditions increase the capacity to store heat within the Arctic system, which induces more melting -? a positive dieback. The Arctic is particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification due to its cooler water and low salinity.

Cooler water allows for carbon dioxide to be dissolved more quickly into the Arctic Ocean, while lower salinity reduces the ability of the ocean to buffer against acidification. Because of these factors, if current rates of carbon dioxide emissions are left unconstrained, the acidity of the Arctic Ocean will rise sharply. Ironically, the dramatic changes experienced throughout the Arctic -? many of which are the result of man- made climate change -? are unlocking massive fossil-fuel reserves which, hen burned, would only accelerate the destructive cycle of unchecked emissions and warming.

The Arctic region is believed to contain 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its natural gas, according to the U. S. Geological Survey. Developing these reserves -? and unlocking the massive “carbon bomb” they represent -? is an irrational and dangerous response to the reality of global climate change. Not only does it put the remote and undeveloped region at risk for a potentially devastating oil spill, but it feeds the positive feedback loop of carbon emissions and climate extraction.

The potential climate impacts aren’t limited to just oil and gas consumption. A recent report from the Clean Air Task Force found that substantial climate impacts could come from the production stage as well, unless companies take meaningful steps to minimize them. Otherwise, methane and black carbon will likely be emitted in significant amounts if drilling in the Arctic proves as lucrative as many oil companies hope it will be.

In order to avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change, enormous fossil-fuel reserves will need to remain in the ground untouched. Quite imply, serious climate action is incompatible with expanding fossil-fuel production. The ramifications of the melting Arctic aren’t contained in that faraway part of the world. Instead, the devastating impact of climate change in the Arctic has tremendous ripple effects throughout the entire global system.

The researchers stated that ‘ “With more solar energy going into the Arctic Ocean because of lost ice, there is reason to expect more extreme weather events, such as heavy snowfall, heat waves, and flooding in North America and Europe. ” New analysis by researchers from Cornell university ND Rutgers University confirms this theory, finding the confluence of events that created the unprecedented superstore Sandy may not have been a freak occurrence, but one fueled by the record-breaking Arctic sea ice melt. According to a summary of the research:… He severe loss of summertime Arctic sea ice-?attributed to greenhouse warming -? appears to enhance Northern Hemisphere jet stream meandering intensify Arctic air mass invasions toward middle latitudes, and increase the frequency of atmospheric blocking events like the one that steered Hurricane Sandy west into the densely populated New York City area. The combination of increased sea levels and altered weather patterns as a result of the rapid melting of the Arctic carries severe consequences for densely populated areas, including our own backyard.

As top NASA climatologist James Hansen bluntly explained, “If the world allows a substantial fraction Of the Greenland ice sheet to disintegrate, all hell breaks loose for eastern North America and Europe. Climate change is permanently altering the Arctic region, and the results are startling. As ecosystems unravel, fragile species such as polar bears are struggling to survive, shorelines are eroding, waters are becoming increasingly acidic, snow and ice are vanishing at an alarming rate, and storms are more severe and unpredictable than ever before.

At the heart of the problem, however, lies human activity -? our addiction to fossil fuels. As Jason Box, Greenland expert at the Byrd polar Research Center, explains, “Those who claim it’s all cycles just don’t understand that humans are driving the cycle right now, and for the foreseeable future. ” Rather than respond to this crisis with serious policies to significantly and swiftly reduce our carbon emissions, governments with jurisdiction over the Arctic have taken the cackles approach of moving forward with plans to exploit the newly accessible fossil fuels and accelerate the destruction.

Decisions regarding whether to allow potentially destructive industrial activity, such as oil and gas development, in this fragile environment cannot be examined independently from the climate crisis they will perpetuate. Taking serious action to curb the devastating effects of climate change means we must aggressively deploy clean technologies, internalize the actual price of pollution by putting a price on carbon, and make major investments in climate resiliency.

The time for cameral solutions has passed and there is no room in the equation for major expansions in fossil-fuel production. In order to avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change, enormous fossil-fuel reserves will need to remain in the ground untouched. Neither the oil and gas industry nor its regulators are adequately prepared for Arctic offshore drilling operations. Furthermore, climate change is already wreaking havoc in the region, melting it at an alarming rate and setting off a domino effect that will ripple through the entire global system.

The trends so plainly on display in the Arctic are rely a preview of what awaits the rest of the planet if serious action isn’t taken soon to aggressively curb our carbon emissions. If we allow corporate interests to tap the reserves of additional fossil fuels that have been exposed by the rapid onset of global climate change, we’re missing the clear message about the future of our environment on a planetary scale. Slowing the devastating steamroll of climate change requires slashing the amount of greenhouse gases we put into the atmosphere, not opening up vast new sources of carbon.

From this perspective, not only does the arctic have inadequate infrastructure to deal with an oil spoil but also response technologies in such extreme environmental conditions remain untested and unproven and unpredictable weather conditions, complicate transportation, preparedness of operations and clean up of spilled oil to an even greater degree. In the words of Lowell Sumner, a pioneering National Park Service biologist, “Here still survives one of the Planet Earth’s own works of art. This one symbolizes freedom: freedom to continue, unhindered and forever if we are willing, the particular story of Planet Earth unfolding here. This dynamic tote, shows just how important the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is, to not only the animals that live there, but also to us as humans with its mass amounts of beauty (PWS). The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1 960 on December sixth to preserve its wildlife (near). The Refuge began with 8. 9 million acres of land then increased to 19. 6 million acres by 1 980 by President Caster’s approval (reforestations). The refugee is filled with endangered species with a variety of over 250 animals.

Also there are many rivers, valleys, canyons and lakes that make the view even better. They have been mentioned as National Natural Landmarks. The cold temperatures covering the grounds with a permafrost layer. It also has frost, snowfall and freezing conditions that help to sculpt the tundra’s landscape. Some of these areas have even been recognized as Research Natural Areas. Drilling in NEAR involves processes that can cause explosions deep in the earth. These explosions or the release of seismic pulses can scare animals, and lay them off from their natural migratory patterns.

This can lead to increased mortality rates of animals such as polar bears and caribou. This can also increase the kiss of these animals to human contacts, which is dangerous to both parties. This large area of land is home to over 250 animals including many endangered species (reforestations). There are 42 mammal species, 36 fish species, and over 160 bird species living on this land (Electroweak). The polar bears were placed on the endangered species list in 2008 due to climate change. There are about 1,500 polar bears in the refuge (reforestations). The caribou have two specific herds in the refuge.

There is the Porcupine Caribou Herd that includes about 1 23,000 members while the Central Arctic Caribou Herd has only 32,000 members. The birds migrate here from all 50 states and six continents (Alaska Trekker). They make the journey here to nest their young (reforestations). In 1 980, legislation also banned oil and gas development on the coastal plain in the northeast corner (reforestations). It has been seen as an object of one of the world’s true wildernesses and also as a debate with modern-day political conflicts about preservation and resource extraction (Saturdays).

On the Arctic coastal plain there is an area called 10-02. This stretch of land takes the name from the Congressional Bill known as the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. This territory is 1. 5 million acres that has been set aside for “oil and gas exploration. ” 10-02 is along the north side close to the Effort Sea and it is completely flat and barren (near). The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the largest refuge in the united States (Saturdays). It’s known as “America’s Serenity” for the wonderful biological productivity and diversity (Audubon).

The rarest part of the refuge is that the ground is completely free of human restriction or manipulation (PWS). There are four main purposes of the refuge. The first one is to conserve animals and plants in their natural environment. Another upper reason for the refuge is a place for things such as hunting and gathering. Secure water quality and quantity is a very important one. The last reason to have this wonderful environment is to meet the international wildlife treaty obligations (PWS). The coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most unharmed and beautiful ecosystems in America (Audubon).

This habitat covers a remote area of northeastern Alaska. It ranges from the Arctic coast south to the ridged peaks of the Brooks Range (Saturdays). It is on the top northeast corner of Alaska and only 1,300 miles south of the North pole (naive). Much of the area is covered by the Brooks Range. These mountains are a far northern extension of the Rockies and the peaks rise past 9,000 feet (Saturdays). The southern portion of the Arctic Refuge is within the boreal forest of Alaska (Alaska Trekker). There are three main rivers that run through the terrain. They are the Sheen, Wind, and the Visual (PWS).

The area has a permafrost layer. Frost, snowfall, and freezing conditions also sculpt the tundra landscape (fosse). Two areas in the refuge are known as Research Natural Areas. This is because they have noticeable scenic and scientific features. Many rivers, valleys, canyons, lakes, and a rock mesa have been mentioned as National Natural Landmarks as well (Electroweak). Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is an extensive persevere of jagged mountains, dwarf boreal forest and windswept, lassoer tundra which is traveled by many different species of animals (Saturdays).

What is oil and how is it extracted form the earth? Oil is formed from the remains of tiny plants and animals that died in ancient seas between 10 million and 600 million years ago. After the organisms died, they sank into the sand and mud at the bottom of the sea. Over the years, the organisms decayed in the sedimentary layers. In these layers, there was little or no oxygen present. So microorganisms broke the remains into carbon-rich compounds that formed organic layers. The organic material mixed with the sediments, forming fine-grained shale, or source rock.

As new sedimentary layers were deposited, they exerted intense pressure and heat on the source rock. The heat and pressure distilled the organic material into crude oil and natural gas. The oil flowed from the source rock and accumulated in thicker, more porous limestone or sandstone, called reservoir rock. Movements in the Earth trapped the oil and natural gas in the reservoir rocks between layers of impermeable rock, or cap rock, such as granite or marble. (http:// www. Electrodynamics. Com/woodworking’s. HTML) It starts with looking for prospective spots where oil can be found.

Geologist use many different techniques on how to find the oil. Sensitive gravity meters can be used in measuring small changes in the earth’s gravitational field which helps in indicating the flow of oil. Sensitive magnetometers help in measuring the changes resulting from the flowing oil. They also detect the smell of hydrocarbons through sensitive noses known as snifters. Last but not least, seismology can be used in the creation of showplaces; these waves pass through hidden rock layers and interpret the waves reflected back to the surface. The shock waves result from; compressed-air guns, thumper trucks and explosives.

Compressed-air guns shoot air pulses into the water. Thumper trucks, on the other hand, are efficient on land. Explosives detonate in the water when thrown overboard. The shock waves created travel under the surface and are reflected back from the rock layers. These reflections travel at different speeds depending on the density and type of rock layers they pass through. Oil explorers can also use vibration detectors and sensitive microphones in detecting the reflection of shock waves. Seismologists then interpret the readings in order to determine gas and oil traps.

The environmental studies have been carried out and the data has been compiled into workable maps of the exploration site, it’s time to send in the drilling crew. Before any drilling begins on land BP may have to build access roads, construct a temporary power station or install wells for the water supply. In fragile habitats or very remote places helicopters or barges may be the only responsible way to get equipment and supplies into place. Even at this stage, with crews and heavy machinery in place, there is a possibility that nothing will be found.

As the diamond or tungsten drill bit goes into the hard rock, a substance called ‘mud’ is pumped down through the pipe. Mud is a fluid consisting of water, clay, additives and thickeners. It both cools the drill bit, and flushes out the shards of cut rock from the reservoir. As the mud comes back up through the outer part of the pipe, we get the first hard evidence showing whether we were right about the resources at the site. Geologists monitor the cuttings to check whether hey re coming out in the sequences they expected, while records of the mud and rock fragments are kept for further study later on. Http://www. BP. Com/ en/global/corporate/about;BP/what-we-do/finding-oil-and-gas. HTML) . Offshore oil drilling has been a source of gas and oil for years. The offshore oil drilling process is a mechanical process whereby workers drill bores through the seabed; this process occurs in order to search for and extract oil and natural gas. The oil lies in the rock formations existing beneath the seabed. In USA alone, there are over 5,600 offshore gas and oil platforms in operation. Their activities facilitate the production of large amounts of petroleum products.

It has a positive impact on the country’s economy. However, the oil drilling also contributes to environmental degradation in a variety of ways. They have a tremendous impact on the water, ocean floor, air quality and marine ecosystems. The decline in global oil reserves facilitates the discovery and exploitation of many sources on the seabed. The evident rise in the price of oil worldwide increases the determination of companies in seeking more sources of oil. An understanding of the process and its impact n the environment helps in reducing environmental hazards associated with oil spills.

The exploration of previously inaccessible oil reserves increases the production of oil; this in turn, lowers its price through high supply. (http:// www. Peripheral. Org/free-essay-samples/essay-about-offshore-oil drilling. HTML) . Once the companies determine the site for oil production, they use a Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MOOD) in digging the initial well. Among these units, some convert into production rigs; this means they are no longer used for oil drilling but instead capture the oil. A submersible MOOD has a rage resting on the sea floor; this is at a depth of around 30 to 35 feet.

A jack up is a rig that rests on top of a floating barge. Once securely installed, the jack up ratchets its legs to raise the platform above the water level; this occurs in order to keep the rig safe from tidal waves and motions; the jack ups function in the depths of up to 525 feet. Engineers add several pipes to the drill strings as the rig drills down further; each pipe section is about 30 feet long. Once the MOOD reaches the oil deposit, the well must be sealed in preparation for an oil rig. In a situation like this, the crew drills another hole onto the reservoir; through the second hole, they inject steam under pressure.

The gas and oil companies focus on the drilling of three main types of wells; these are the delineation, exploration and development wells. (http:// drilling. HTML). Oil extraction and drilling have disastrous effects on the environment; these occur during and after the drilling process. The offshore oil drilling process results in the production of toxic and chemical substances; research studies show the production of substances such as zinc, chromium, lead, arsenic and mercury. Once extracted, these chemicals are released back onto the ocean during the extraction process.

They contaminate the water and result in the death and poisoning of organisms. The effects of offshore oil drilling should be explored through a focus on specific areas. Climate change dramatically weakens the foundation on which the ecosystems function. An increase in industrialization activities such as offshore oil drilling increases the challenges faced by phytoplankton and other organisms. Some of the species at risk due to the oil drilling include; polar bears, walruses, fish, beluga, behead whales, coastal birds and ringed seals. (http://whom. Peripheral. Org/ ere-essay-samples/essay-about-offshore-oil-drilling. HTML). The impact of exposure to oil on furred and feathered animals is both immediate and long- term. Once exposed, the oil immediately eliminates the animals’ thermal insulation. It also weighs them down and often causes hypothermia and drowning. Though many animals die immediately from the exposure, others suffer for weeks and even months. The toxins they come in contact with cause damage to their immune and adrenal systems. They also affect the functioning of lungs, liver, kidneys and other body organs. The vulnerability of the organisms increases with the extended exposure periods.


I'm Belinda!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out