Long-Term Environmental Effects of Offshore Oil and Gas Development

By Donald F. Boesch; Nancy N. Rabalais | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4

OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES POTENTIALLY CAUSING LONG-TERM ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS
Jerry M. Neff, Nancy N. Rabalais and Donald F. Boesch
CONTENTS
Introduction ........................................................................... 149
Sequence of Activities .............................................................. 150
Operational Discharges ............................................................. 152
Drilling Discharges .............................................................. 153
Produced Water .................................................................. 159
Oil Spills ................................................................................ 167

INTRODUCTION

There often is much confusion about activities involved in offshore oil and gas development which might potentially result in adverse environmental effects. In the forefront of the minds of most people are, of course, large oil spills. Yet experience has shown that these occur rarely. Smaller accidental oil spills and discharges which are purposely made during normal operations are more pervasive. The regulation of operational discharges has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. What exactly do they consist of, and how much is discharged? Finally, construction and transportation of equipment, materials and product are frequently not considered as causes of adverse environmental effects. What do they entail, and how might they affect the marine environment?

This chapter presents a description of activities involved in the exploration for and production of oil and gas in offshore environments. Special emphasis is placed on characterizing the nature and amount of discharges, both operational and accidental, based on recent experience. The chapter is intended as background and an information source for the chapters to follow, which will specifically consider the potential long-term effects of these activities. Excluded from this review, as they are from throughout the book, are those activities related to direct effects on human society and its economy and on air quality. Rather, this perspective is limited to effects on marine and coastal environments.

-149-

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