REPORT ON OIL FORMATION, EXTRACTION, USE AND EFFECTS ON THE ENVIRONMENT
Oil is a fossil fuel
which is formed when plants and animals die, and the remains buried under
several thousand meters of silt, sand and mud. It takes millions of years to
form and therefore it is considered to be a non-renewable energy source.
According to Wikipedia, “It consists of hydrocarbons of various molecular
weights and other organic compounds. The name petroleum covers both naturally
occurring unprocessed crude oil and petroleum products that are made up of
refined crude oil.” (Petroleum, Wikipedia, (n.d))
There are many oil producing countries around the world,
these include Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nigeria, Libya, Iran, USA(Texas), and
many others. The North Sea crude oil fields, the Middle East make up the
biggest part of the oil producing industry economically. The top 10 oil
producing countries in the world are Saudi Arabia, United States, Russia,
China, Iran, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Brazil and Kuwait.
Meanwhile, the countries with the biggest oil reserves are Venezuela, Saudi
Arabia, Canada, Iran, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Libya and Nigeria.
The world has a very
limited supply of petroleum. Currently, estimations show that in the next
coming decades humans will have completely used up this valuable natural resource.
Measures are being take to ensure that there are cheap, renewable energy
options as backup for this but it is still obvious that we shall face a serious
problem when petroleum finally runs out, for example, Texas which was once the
worlds most famous and influential oil region, is now almost completely dry.
Oil gets trapped in
pockets underground and can move through the porous rocks. The oil moves
upwards from source rocks. When they meet a layer of cap rock it is then trapped.
A well is drilled and the crude oil hence travels up the bore hole. When it
reaches the surface, it has to be moved closer to where it is needed. Finding
oil and drilling a well are very complicated and expensive. It can cost
millions of dollars to drill a well and only few are a success. The liquids
found underground are a complex mixture of water. Crude oil and natural gas.
The crude oil and gas are separated before are transported safely. Oil is also often
found far away and also under the sea. It has to be transported to an oil
refinery through a pipeline or a tanker. The crude oil is also found in remote
places such as deserts, jungles and even the Artic. Transportation of this
crude oil to the refinery is sometimes complicated. The oil refinery changes
the crude oil into products and materials which are then transported all over
the region. The products can move through pipelines, road, rail or by ships
around the coat along rivers and canals.
Oil is brought to the surface using very heavy machinery
and complex processes. When a potential amount of crude oil is discovered, it
is analyzed if it can be produced profitably or not. Once it passes the
commerciality tests, a hole is drilled up to the depth where the accumulation
is situated. This involves the use of a drilling rig which is an assembly of
components the most important being a drill string. The drill string is a
combination of many smaller devices with a drill bit at the end. Drilling is
very expensive and geology of many areas are different. When no more oil can be
produced from the area, the hole is closed and the place is left abandoned.
This is the general trend of crude oil extraction. Many factors influence
extraction of crude oil but it all follows the same procedure as stated earlier.
“Other instruments such as gravimeters and magnetometers ae also used in the
search for petroleum. Extracting crude oil normally starts with drilling wells
into an underground reservoir. When an oil well has been tapped, a geologist
(known on the rig as the “mud logger”) will note its presence.” (Wikipedia,
Extraction of petroleum, (n.d))
Originally, petroleum was used as a lighting fuel after
being distilled and turned into kerosene. Today it is used to power combustion
engines (gasoline or petrol), Automobiles and other forms of transport consume
the highest quantity of petroleum. petroleum is also used for paving road using
its thickest form, bitumen. It forms a blacktop on the road and is an excellent
water repellant which is also used for roofing. Oil plays a big part I the
chemical makeup of many plastics and synthetics. It is also noted to have an
appearance in foodstuffs e.g. beer and also medications like pain killers.
Petroleum is highly toxic
since it kills fish and also causes harm to the oceans through the various oil
spills that occur. Humans are also affected as crude oil can be highly carcinogenic.
Benzene is often found in crude oil which could cause blood cancer through
lowering white blood cells thereby causing immunity to lower hence a higher chance
of getting diseases. Many birth defects are also linked to petroleum products.
According to “Petroleum runoff and recreational vehicle discharge have a major
environmental impact. The conclusion of Oil in the sea III, perhaps surprising
to many, is that oil from individual cars and boats, lawn mowers, jet skis,
marine vessels, and airplanes contribute to the most oil pollution to the ocean.”
(Oil and Pollution in the Ocean, Ocean Studies Board, (n.d))
Since crude oil cannot be
used in its natural state, it has to be refined which releases toxins to the
atmosphere. This damages the ecosystem and may cause an impact to human health.
The most common way oil is used is through burning it. Large amounts of carbon dioxide are thereby
released into the atmosphere hence contributing to greenhouse gasses that are
causing so many problems today. Burning oil doesn’t usually complete the
combustion process. Not only are water and carbon dioxide released but also
other compounds like carbon monoxide which is very toxic. The soot from burning
oil easily seen from the exhausts of vehicles can coat human lungs leading to
cancer or eve heart disease. When the toxic gases released from burning oil
combine with water in the atmosphere, rain that fall s is highly acidic which
has caused a lot of damage to the Great Barrier Reef and other coral reefs,
several lakes are getting filled with dead fish due to increasing acidity. Oil
spills have led to the death of many animals and cleanup is very difficult and
could take years to finish. the loss to marine life and the effects on animals
and humans can’t really be reversed. The uncontrolled use of oil today has
caused many ailments to the world today, the most heard of being global
warming. The overall temperature of the earths atmosphere is increasing. This
is attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by the increasing amounts of
carbon dioxide, CFCs and other toxic gasses. Petroleum has played a really big
part in this. “We use them to fuel our airplanes, cars, and trucks, to heat our
homes, and to make products like medicines and plastics. Even though petroleum
products make life easier—finding, producing, moving, and using them can harm
the environment through air and water pollution.” (How Does Oil Impact the Environment?)