Disposal of rigs is also quite a problematic matter. It is very costly to remove a discontinued platform. It was estimated in 1995 that removing all of the rigs in British waters would cost $345 billion, and that wasn't including removal of pipelines. If pipelines were to be removed as well, the cost would jump to $621 billion, and partially demolished platforms pose a danger to vessels. For example, an infamous incident connected with an oil spill occurred in 1969. Around 11 million liters of crude oil was spilled into the water of the Santa Barbara Channel by the Union Oil Company of California.
What is the process of offshore drilling? How dangerous is offshore drilling and why is so much money being invested to continue our dependency on fossil fuels?
What is offshore drilling? This is a process of drilling and extracting fuel resources located underwater near the shore. This term refers to crude oil and natural gas extraction. Baku, the Capital of Azerbaijan, was the first place that offshore drilling took place in the 19th century. Offshore drilling is challenging because it requires keeping manned facilities above water. The biggest and most sensational construction ever built and moved is the Troll A platform, a condeep, offshore natural gas platform. It is 472 meters high with a weight of 1.2 million tons. Challenges are not limited only by the scale of construction work. Another point is the need for sub-water facilities where the separation of sand from oil would be performed, and these facilities demand extra efforts and funds.
Human resources are the next challenge of the industry. People on offshore oil platforms live in an isolated area where they have sleeping quarters, mess and management. Now, efforts are made in order to replace as many people as possible from the offshore platform ashore, maintaining video contact with those who are left on the platform. Offshore fields are located in the North Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, the Barents Sea and some others.
Offshore oil production is associated with the risk of oil spillage. Spills may occur while oil is transported to the shore by a tanker. Damaged pipelines or the platform itself may also cause spills.
Referring to the risk factors that have been previously mentioned, the U.S. offshore drilling debate is in progress. The question is whether it should be allowed to drill new wells near the coast of the United States. President George W. Bush lifted an executive ban on offshore oil drilling in July 2008. This ban is still in effect, although George W. Bush supports the idea of drilling in Alaska, particularly in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This issue is still being debated as it concerns the environment and U.S. energy independence.
A drilling ban was also used as a respective tool in the light of the 2008 presidential election by Democratic candidate Barack Obama and Republican candidate John McCain. Obama was against drilling while McCain was for it.
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