4 Offshore Drilling Environmental Impacts


When looking at the major offshore drilling environmental impacts that may occur, there are two primary concerns that involve water pollution: oil spills and drilling fluid leaks. Both leaks may be toxic to local marine life and leave a lingering impact on multiple forms of trade, economic growth, and industrial well-being. There are additional offshore drilling environmental impacts which must be considered as well.

1. It Can Disrupt The Habitat Of The Ocean Floor.

Offshore drilling will physically disrupt the habitat of the seafloor when it occurs. Add in the pipelines, the supports for the drilling rig, and shipping channels that may be required and the ocean floor may be a very different place after the oil rig than before it. These impacts may even cause damage to local coral reefs.

2. Marine Life Is Impacted Before Drilling Occurs.

Even the seismic surveys that are used to locate the oil or natural gas can be disruptive to marine life. Those with echo location are quite sensitive to the waves that are generated by the searching process. This sensitivity can interfere with their migratory habits and may even be the cause of beaching behavior.

3. It Creates Water Pollution.

Fluids and oil create water pollution, but so do the actual drilling activities. Metal cuttings, for example, may be dumped into the ocean or other waste materials may enter the marine life chain. When this combines with the transportation sources of water pollution that are required to transport supplies to and from the offshore drilling activities, local habitats can become extensively damaged in a short period of time.

4. It Creates Air Pollution.

The USPIRG reports that a single offshore drilling creates the same environmental impact as 7,000 cars which drive 50 miles per day. This equates to several tons of carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, and nitrogen oxides that pollute the air. These oxides can also create algae growth in the water since it can be used as a food source, creating blooms that can further stagnate marine life.

There are ways we can offset these offshore drilling environmental impacts, from safer survey solutions to enhanced waste management efforts. This way we can conserve energy, preserve life, and still maintain our current standards of living.