Fracking is not a new discovery; in fact hydraulic fracking began nearly 60 years ago. After all this time, fracking is still not controlled, nor is it environmentally safe, even though today we have super computers that can provide a better understanding of how to minimize errors caused by fracking. This does not mean it is any safer than when it started 60 years ago. The complexity of fracking, and the fluid flow, although monitored by the enhanced computers, can still cause dangers that come from unexpected accidents and unplanned events. As the years go by, there is still a danger to the environment from the increased fracking and deep sea drilling operations.
Today, fracking/drilling operator crews make use of superior computers, and can receive signals and instructions from satellite stations, as technology has advanced over time. Presently, through the use of improved computers, drill operators have an inside view of drilling operations, which enable them to determined results, and make meaningful decisions to ensure safety. Nevertheless, every time a hole is made through fracking, there is contamination.
Deep-sea drilling operations penetrate ocean floors to achieve the desired results of the team. Research and the use of modern technology has eliminated previous problems with the replacement of drill bits. However, repairs to the drill ships and rigs still remain a persistent problem. With over 600 deep-water wells in the Gulf of Mexico, this renders an ongoing process of trying to eliminate the problem of maintenance. It is estimated that in the Gulf of Mexico 1.5 million barrels of oil a day is produced and this could increase significantly as supply and demand continues to grow.
An important structure of the drilling rig is the Blowout prevention (BOP) connected to the wellhead. The BOP is a vital part of the deep sea drilling process, and it is this function that can prevent accidents or unnecessary danger from occurring. What happens when something goes wrong? We cannot forget the BP oilfield disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which caused the deaths of 11 people and took more than 87 days to clear up. This one disaster has unleashed environmental and deep-sea water problems. Moreover, the oil spills, the levels of uranium, radium, the flames, and the gases released will arguably cause more damage to our environment.
Pennsylvania State University conducted tests on the dangers and potential health risks from fracking. An issue raised was the radioactivity in waste-water from the hydraulic fracturing flowing back from gas wells, which contained high levels of radium. This was least of the problems caused from fracking. Methane gas can have a negative impact on the quality of water and can lead to other dangers such as an explosion if not controlled.
Another concern is the Hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a toxic gas to humans and animals. This highly flammable element has been detected in some fracking operations. Onshore or offshore oil wells produce this gas when crude oil is extracted. It is known as an irritant and can adjust both the oxygen consumption and affect the central nervous system. Ongoing research into this toxic gas as well as defining safer measures are continually implemented to make non-toxic procedures and produce less damage to the world’s environment.
A perpetual nightmare is the vast amount of water required for the fracking operations and the flow back of waste water, which requires treatment. Improper configuration of sewage plants is a key issue. The elimination of chemicals from waste-water does not guarantee that fracking is proceeding without additional danger. Hydraulic fracturing water recycling rules have been implemented to encourage operations to protect water. There are studies currently being conducted on the use of carbon dioxide instead of water as an alternative option. Recently, in deep sea drilling operations, mud mixed with other chemicals is being used for deep sea drilling, this is simply because of a higher rate in the increase of pressure, higher density.
Shell gas reserves are plentiful and widespread across the world. These reserves have remained largely inaccessible. London who started to drill several years ago is the first to have exploited this potential. America turned around from an importer of gas to an exporter.
It is reported that China has enough reserves to fulfill its nation’s needs for more than two centuries. In Europe, it is understood that Poland has the largest gas reserves, followed by Norway and France.
Nevertheless, the environmental and safety fears have caused France to ban fracking operations. This is a country that has made a positive decision and one that will generate a better environment for all. We can all unite and follow their resounding commitment to protect our environment.
Despite the ongoing problems facing fracking and deep sea drilling operation, this trend is moving to Asia and Africa.
Written by Laura Oneale