The text is aimed at a better understanding of the issue of oil seepage and its effect on the environment. Natural oil is one of the most important natural resource and all the countries are fighting for the control of this commodity. Growth of any nation is directly dependent on its natural resources, particularly oil and Arab nations are an example of this fact. This fact lure nations to ignore the environmental hazards related to oil exploration. Natural oil seepage is one of the problems related to oil extraction and this is a major cause of environmental contamination. This report will discuss the phenomenon of natural oil seepage and will elucidate on the preventive measures that can be used to avert the environmental damage caused by oil seepage.
Natural oil seep is defined as the phenomenon in which liquid and gaseous chemical, mostly hydrocarbons, escape to the surface. These gases and liquids escape through the fissures in the rock and come to the face of the earth. The seeping of natural oil and gases is a natural processes and it is being going on for years. Environmental pollution that it causes is significant and oil spill is also one of the consequences of oil seepage. It is very important to understand the whole phenomenon and its causes before any suggestions can be made regarding the prevention of environmental contamination.
Recent technology has developed so much that we are now able to do things which were not possible in previous days, but the same high tech systems are now being used to exploit the natural habitat and this is nothing to be proud of. There are always two sides of a coin and even on the issue of natural oil seepage expert opinion is divided. Some consider this a problem and other think it is just a natural phenomenon which is not detrimental for the environment. Both of these schools of thoughts will be studied in great detail. Some light will also be shed on the history of geology and petroleum engineering, and how natural oil seepage was discovered. There are certain causes of natural oil seepage and that are important to understand. Also the disadvantages put forward by the opposing school of natural oil seepage will be analyzed and a cost benefit analysis will be done. Benefits should exceed the cost of anything and only then that particular thing should be allowed. Same theory will be applied on oil exploration and especially off shore drilling.
Many studies have been conducted on the subject of natural oil seeping the findings have varied very much. There are many factors that have contributed to the different results. One of the factors is the use of technology and improving methods that are aimed to better analyze surfaces beneath water. Soil samples below the sea are used to observe the amount of oil seeped. Sometime back geologist did not have sufficient amount of technologies and for this reason they had to depend upon surmises. But with the advent of technology better ways are at the disposal of researchers and for this reasons findings differ.
Natural oil seeps are range over a wide degree if we discuss about their diameter. They can be so disseminate that human eye cannot observe or they may measure up to 10 diameters (County of Santa Barbra, 2002). The oil can seep in the form of droplets or in the form of bubbles. These are the different forms of natural oil seepage. The natural oil seepage is used for identifying potential natural oil reserves under water. The analysis of these oil seeps is done in order to determine the potential petroleum reserves beneath the surface of the sea.
Researchers have identified that the seeps can emerge from a single point beneath the sea or the size of the fissure may be as big as one half a centimeter in diameter (County of Santa Barbra, 2002). Analysis of natural oil seepage also tells that oil and petroleum that surface due to seepage undergoes many changes and for this reason the oil seepage may not be as harmful as oil spills.
In 70's and 80's only estimates could be made regarding the amount of oil seepage in different regions and these estimates were very subjective in nature. Many assumptions were made before predicting the amounts oil seeped in a region. Therefore these estimates were not found to be credible at all.
For example studies conducted on seepage rates on Gulf of Mexico predicted a low rate of oil seepage in the region, but recent studies tell that the seepage rate is much higher than estimated in previous studies (National Academic Press, 2003). This change may be because of some natural factors that have enhanced the rate of oil seepage or this may be a cause of a simple research mistake, this is not sure.
Researchers have also suggested that the oil that is seeped to the surface of the earth lacks hydro carbon content and therefore it may not be very dangerous for the environment (Science Daily, 2009). The hue and cry on the issue is not worth considering as oil is affected by a series of natural elements inside the earth that upon its emission, it is not dangerous at all. This argument has some weight because of the concept of evolution. Natural oil seepage is a natural process and animals have become used to this process so there is no reason whatsoever to worry about the problem. Animals have evolved according to the surroundings and therefore they are not affected by natural oil seepage.
This is a very good finding, but researchers have also found some fatalities due to the process of oil seepage and that instill doubts in the no harm theory of oil seepage (County of Santa Barbra, 2002). There is no explanation of the death of these birds and mostly the causes are unknown but biologists assume that oil from seepage is the cause of deaths, but no credible statistics are available. This is a problem with the researches on the subject of natural oil seepage and its affects. Some think that it is not harmful for the environment and others suggest that it is detrimental to some extent. Whatever the case is further research work will elucidate on the topic.
In another study bacterium was found to play an important role in the transformation of petroleum (Bergmann et al. 2003). These microorganisms extract the harmful elements out of the oil that is seeped and reduces the hazardous effects of the oil. This oil is not very much harmful for the animals because bacteria consume all the negative elements of oil. This is the suggested nature of life and this is how nature has developed a defense mechanism against this natural phenomenon.
All of the above findings are o0f very important nature and they are very useful in the research pertaining to oil seepage. New findings have shocked researchers on the magnitude of natural oil seepage and have paved way for further research on the subject. One thing is very important to note down at this point is that all of these findings may not be accurate and further research may be required to find more insight on the subject. In science nothing is forever and constant research is required as new things come up on a daily basis. Environmental change is something very hard to predict and even modern day technology may not be able to accurately predict the future.
Natural oil seepage is not caused by human actions and the process of seepage of oil is natural. However the process of seepage may increase due to the continuous drilling. Petroleum is a necessity and that's why nations are fighting over its control. This has increased the importance of oil and countries are extensively searching for oil reservoirs. It is estimated that large amount of oil is available underneath the seas and therefore nations keep looking for oil in waters. This is causing the natural oil seeping to increase and this is adversely affecting the environment.
The problem is mostly in regions where oil is found in abundance and for years these nations have extracted oil from sea. In these nations natural oil seepage is causing problems. In the Arabian Gulf Kuwait is one country which is severely exposed to oil pollution (Al-Abdali et al. 1999). This oil pollution may be because of many other factors like oil spilling and equipment problem. In these oil rich regions more drilling is done and that requires more equipment and therefore chances of accidents are also more. This factor may also contribute to the oil pollution in Arabian Gulf region.
The causes of natural oil seepage are natural so nothing can be done to stop it. Moreover there have been studies which have raised serious questions on the effect oil seep causes on environment. Human intervention is however important as it accelerates the speed of oil seepage and when a natural process is disrupted, environment is affected. The natural process of oil seepage is a way in which the earth releases oil and that oil is not very dangerous for environment, but when due to human intervention oil seeping increases it may have critical consequences for the animal life under water and also for humans.
The harmful effects of natural oil seeping need to be analyzed in detail. First of all the chemical effect that oil seepage enhances is damaging for fishes and under water plants. Harmful chemicals are still present in the oil when it seeps from fissures and these chemicals in turn affect natural life. Animals are the first ones to be exposed from oil seep and their genetic formation is adversely affected by the harmful chemicals present in oil.
Another disadvantage of natural oil seepage is on the human beings. Sea food is an important source of income for many people and sea food is also liked by many people. When fishes are affected by oil, the same fishes are sold by fishermen to the public and this may cause severe health problems. Fishermen may also get affected as they are dependent on fishes and that's why decrease in sea life will not be good for human beings.
People also visit beaches regularly and oil on the surface of water can affect skin. The oil due natural seepage is sometimes not even detected by naked eye and if the same water goes in the mouth and stomach, them one can imagine the amount of damage it can cause. Young children are also exposed to sea water in picnics. Their eyes are very sensitive and children might be very susceptible to any harmful chemical.
The greatest disadvantage of natural oil seepage is that it occurs regularly and it increases with drilling. Also the oil is not easily detectable so for this reason media cries about large oil spills, but fail to realize people about this problem. Natural oil seepage is a chronic process and it is going on for centuries, but it has lately increased. The increase goes unreported and therefore no great work is done to counter the problem. The fact is that natural oil seepage is not even considered a problem by many.
Earth Quakes have also increased the fissures in the ground below sea and this is also a cause of natural oil seepage. When oil will find more space to move out, more oil will come to the surface and more pollution will contaminate waters. Drilling also increases the cracks in the ground and in this way it increases oil seepage.
There are certain precautions that can decrease the amount of oil seeped. Limited drilling can help a lot in lessening the environmental pollution due to natural oil seepage. Arab countries should focus on improving the technology they are using and this can limit oil pollution. Chemicals should be used to counteract the effects of natural oil seepage, but this will only be possible when this is considered an issue. Also more focus should be given on understanding oil seepage and for this further researches are required.
Natural oil seepage is a natural phenomenon and it is something that previously might not have affected the environment of the world. But due to increase in the drilling procedures and increase in need for oil, natural seepage problem has aggravated. This has affected the environment very badly. People who do not consider it a problem are wrong as it is no longer a natural process. The nature is being contaminated by human interventions and this may be end it ultimate mayhem. The see pollution is already significant in Arab region and Gulf of Mexico, and it is expected that oil seepage will increase more in these regions in coming years.
The irony is that natural oil seepage is not even considered an issue and people argue that a natural process may not harm the environment, but they fail to understand the whole issue. Oil companies use oil seepage to hide their own deficiencies. They are ill equipped and their machines are also not of acceptable standards.
This is the reason of increase in environmental pollution and natural oil seepage. People need to understand that the whole point of environmental safety is to quit practices that are not contributing to sustainable development. The benefits of oil do not exceed the loss that this blind exploration will cause. Natural oil seepage is directly connected to oil drilling and increase in drilling increases oil seepage.
It is also true that certain bacteria are present in the soil that eats away the harmful elements of natural oil that is seeped from the ground. This cannot be used to defend offshore oil exploration, as this process is due to the natural balance. For centuries this seepage is going on and it is not affecting the environment. It is only from a couple of decades that this problem has aroused and this shows that issue is with human practices and not with any other factor.
Natural oil seepage is a source of oil spill and environmental pollution, but it is also a natural phenomenon. Human activities in recent years have increases oil seepage and in turn oil spill. The main disadvantage of this is pertinent to the environmental life. Plants and animals will die and human life will also endanger if exploration of oil is not limited. The main problem is that the issue of oil seepage and oil exploration is not considered a problem and that is causing a lot of problems for the earth.
Regions which are rich in oil are more affected with the problems of natural oil seepage. Arabian Gulf region is seriously affected by natural oil seepage. The Gulf of Mexico is also a region which has been recorded for most amount of oil seepage. Use of chemicals that reduce the harmful effects of natural oil can be used to prevent problems caused by oil seepage.