The New Global Oil Market: Understanding Energy Issues in the World Economy

By Siamack Shojai | Go to book overview

Chapter 17
The Impact of Environmental Controls on Petroleum Exploration, Development, and Extraction

Diana Denison, Thomas D. Crocker, and Genevieve Briand

Globally, but especially in the wealthier parts of the world, media, political, and citizen worries mount annually about the impact of petroleum exploration, development, and extraction upon natural environments. In roughly declining order the worries focus upon the fouling of ground, surface, and marine waters through spills and toxin and salt invasions; compromises of the ecological integrity of wildlife and wilderness habitats through drilling and transportation-induced fragmentation; and air pollution through storage facility leaks, gas flaring, and accidental combustion. Any attempt to evaluate the significance of these environmental worries for the fates of global oil markets must recognize that five key linked influences shape their intensity: (1) petroleum production and trade patterns; (2) the technological, financial, and management practices used in production and trade; (3) the effects of these practices upon waste loadings in natural environmental assets; (4) the impact of these loadings upon the natural assets' productivities; and (5) the weight these loadings and productivity and trade changes exercise upon individual and collective behaviors and the values they express. This chapter considers the influences that environmental controls are likely to exercise upon petroleum production and international trade patterns.

In purely economic efficiency terms, these five influences upon citizens' worries about petroleum production are worthy of policy and thus regulatory attention only when the system of voluntary exchanges known familiarly as the "market" fails to cause petroleum producers to act as if they will bear all the costs of their activities. These costs include those that production activities and pollution flows impose upon the present and those that resource depletion and accumulated pollution stocks impose upon the future.

In petroleum production, as in many other sectors where production activities can degrade and disrupt natural assets, the values that citizens attach to these

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