Essay Example on Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

Published: 2022-05-27 03:45:33
Essay Example on Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories: Energy
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1382 words
12 min read


Offshore oil and gas drilling entails the act of extracting these valuable resources by boring below the ocean waters, into the ocean floors. Some countries such as the US are forced to obtain most of their petroleum products from the oceans to meet their growing demand for energy in addition to other sources such as wave and tidal energy. However, regardless of the need to satisfy the population's demand for fuel, there are marine creatures that rely totally on the sea waters for survival. This oil extraction process may adversely affect oceanic biodiversity if contaminants are released into these waters, an incidence that jeopardizes the processes' overall sustainability. Additionally, the well-being of machine operators and other workers in petroleum companies is crucial to the long-term financial and operation's success. Therefore, a dilemma ensues on how to conduct these practices without compromising the ocean's environmental integrity. To this end, the following paragraphs attempt to critically argue whether offshore drilling efforts should continue and the possible limits to control these undertakings.

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II. The Opposing Position

Geologic structures underneath sea floors present unpredictable and adverse high hydrocarbon concentration and temperature surroundings, which essentially contain considerable quantities of natural gas (National Research Council, 11). Any miscalculations in the mining practice may result in human fatalities as well as the death of aquatic species. For instance, in the Macondo blowout, negligence of risk management practices resulted in a sudden collapse of the Mariana, a drilling facility that Deepwater Horizon was using to extract oil from the sea (Freudenberg & Robert, 33). Despite the areas promising geology, Mother Nature proved designers wrong through a hurricane that blew up the boring rig leading to loss of human lives and extensive injuries to those who survived.

III. The Opposition's Validity

Lack of proper planning was to blame for the above incident since the exercise was five weeks late and had its budget inflated by over $20million by the time the oil rig exploded (Freudenberg & Robert, 34). The Deepwater Horizon Company intentionally overlooked the need to adopt safety procedures, with most of the staff members claiming that their employer prioritized on money and time as opposed to safety. To the legal and civic eye, such an act is considered to be criminal that warrants severe penalties in accordance with the law.

Another firm, British Petroleum (BP), has also received widespread criticism from environmental activists who purport that its practices release carbon compounds into the surroundings thereby intensifying global warming. Freudenberg and Robert (40) argue that regardless of the company defending itself by claiming to be actively involved in measures to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases, BP has continued to invest heavily in the Alberta vast oil reserves. Such investments cast doubts on whether BP is committed to guaranteeing marine and general environmental sustainability or only emphasizes on profit-making. The 2006 Alaska spill is a case that justified BP's draconian safety shortcuts and cost-effective measures at the expense of ecological welfare (Freudenberg & Robert, 41). In the long-run, such events further intensify the disapproval of offshore oil mining activities owing to the adversities that may result from deliberate human errors as witnessed in the above contexts.

IV. Transition to the Other Side

On the other hand, humankind needs petroleum products for carrying out daily activities such as transport, manufacturing processes and domestic chores. Moreover, some nations such as the US generate average annual revenues of $3 billion through leasing these resources to interested companies (Freudenberg & Robert, 9). Nonetheless, identifying reserves that should be made accessible to these firms have impeded the smooth progress of most of the proposed oil leasing projects.

V. The Other Position

Oil in contentious areas such as Southern Florida and California coastal regions places the Federal and State governments in a predicament to make decisions based on facts rather than opinions. In the 1990s, the National Academy, a governmental institution, was tasked with generating scientific evidence on the regions that were better placed to support offshore drilling and advice the national authorities accordingly. This move was in the wake of mass protests in Southern Florida, where a strife was also developing between the State and Central governments with the governor litigating the federal administration for leasing oil reserves located within the State's territorial waters (Freudenberg & Robert, 11).

VI. Continuation of this Other Position

From a political viewpoint, the need for exclusive ownership rights may be deemed to have initiated this battle due to the importance of fossil fuels reserves to the populace's well-being. For instance, during the First World War, petroleum was the chief energy source which powered military vessels and thus key to the Allied victory (Freudenberg & Robert, 15). Warring nations had to manufacture weaponry in substantial amounts to subdue their adversaries, which also paved way for industrial revolution. In recent times, there is an increased demand for natural gas and oil, with the International Energy Agency projecting that these two resources will provide more than 50% of the global energy needs by the year 2040 (Freudenberg & Robert, 28).

VII. The Explanation for Agreement with this Position

Given the dominant pattern of naturally erratic renewable fuels substituting traditional power sources, petroleum products will likely have a greater contribution in driving most human operations in the near future. Consequently, the need to provide adequate energy and guarantee safety in oil and gas mining operations hold the key to ensuring both economic and environmental sustainability. Thus, oil companies and government authorities ought to devise strategies that develop a common ground for the two conflicting necessities.

VIII. The Middle Ground

With that in mind, it is imperative to design strategies of enhancing the safety of offshore drilling practices. In this line, The National Research Council (15) exemplified a paradigm that authorities should follow by instituting a committee in January 2010 to evaluate the causes of explosions and blowouts that occurred at the Macondo Well Deepwater Horizon and, in turn, pinpoint measures to avert similar events in future. The main contributing factors to this incident that the committee identified include regulatory procedures, operational oversight, staffs training and qualifications, and engineering, testing and maintenance protocols.

To safeguard human well-being and the lives of marine species, the National Research Council (114) champions for the incorporation of proactive systems, such as the Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS), that demands firms to design, execute and coordinate safe offshore facilities and operations before emphasizing money-making schemes. Additionally, the National Research Council (116) proposes the establishment and implementation of goal-oriented risk-management structures, which will require oil businesses to show proof of their adherence to environmental protection, safety and health standards put in place to attain explicit safety objectives. These regulatory measures will go a long way in fostering the smooth progress and success of offshore oil mining undertakings.

IX. Conclusion

The argument developed above reiterates the value of maintaining the environmental safety of oceans during oil and gas extraction processes. The human populace requires these treasured resources for its routine activities. However, the marine biodiversity equally depends on the sea waters for survival. Any unforeseen and unwarranted drilling practices may substantially lessen the quality of the aquatic surroundings thus endangering marine species such as fish, which mankind also needs for purposes such as food and medicine. Staff members of oil establishments are also at risk of losing their lives or suffering serious injuries when disasters such as explosions and blow-outs occur. Consequently, these opposing interests have to reach a common ground through the enactment of regulatory procedures that ascertain conformity to health, environmental and safety standards. In this line, goal-oriented risk-management frameworks and preemptive systems such as the Safety and Environmental Management Systems would ensure that petroleum mining institutions comply with environmental and safety principles in the design and implementation of offshore drilling processes.

Works Cited

Freudenburg, William R. and Robert Gramling. Blowout in the Gulf: The BP Oil Spill Disaster and the Future of Energy in America. The MIT Press, 2011. EBSCOhost,

Freudenburg, William R. and Robert Gramling. Oil in Troubled Waters: Perceptions, Politics, and the Battle over Offshore Drilling. State University of New York Press, 1994. SUNY Series in Environmental Public Policy. EBSCOhost,

National Research Council, (U.S.). Macondo Well Deepwater Horizon Blowout: Lessons for Improving Offshore Drilling Safety. National Academies Press, 2012. EBSCOhost,

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