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Oiled cormorant on a rocky oil-covered shore Photo Courtesy of EVOS Oil Spill Facts Oil: Cradle to Grave http:// response.restoration.noaa.gov/photos/exxon/exxon.html
To The Victors, Go the Oil. by Winston Smith nobloodforoil.org This presentation focuses on oil. It is designed to show the impacts oil has in regards to race, poverty and the environment. It takes you through the cradle to grave lifecycle of oil, paying particular attention to the social, environmental and public health impacts of the processes associated with oil consumption. We start by looking at oil exploration and extraction. Then we analyze the oil refining process. After that we analyze the distribution of oil to the marketplace. Following this we will conclude with oil consumption and the end waste product of oil.
Oil is a fossil fuel that is formed from the remains of tiny plants and animals, known as plankton that died in ancient seas between 10 million and 600 million years ago. The plankton fell to the bottom of the sea and after decaying, the organisms formed sedimentary layers. In the layers, little or no oxygen is present and this allows microorganisms to break down the remains into carbon-rich compounds that form organic layers. The organic material mix with the sediments to form fine-grained shale, or source rock. As the sedimentary rocks layer, they exert extreme heat and pressure to distill the organic material into crude oil and natural gas. The oil then flows from the source rock and accumulates in thicker, more porous limestone or sandstone known as reservoir rock. When the earth moves the oil and natural gas is trapped in reservoir rocks, which are between layers of impermeable rock, or cap rock– usually granite or marble. The whole process takes millions of years.
The Government and Oil companies usually assign finding oil to contracted geologists
The Geologists make an average of $100,230 making it an incentive to find new reserves
Oil geologists examine surface features, surface rock, reservoir rock, entrapment, satellite images, sensitive gravity meters and magnometers. They can also detect the smell of hydrocarbons using electronic noses called sniffers.
The most common technique for finding reserves is seismology which uses shock waves that interpret waves reflected back to the surface.
Despite all the technologies, modern oil exploration methods are only 10 percent successful.
Once the land is ready, several holes are dug to make way for the rig and main hole. A rectangular pit called a cellar is dug around the location of the actual drilling hole. The cellar provides a workspace around the hole. The crew then drills a main hole. The following is how a rig is set up.
After the pre-wet depth is reached, the workers run and cement the casing –pipe sections into the hole to prevent it from collapsing. Drilling continues in stages. When the rock cuttings from the mud reveal the oil sand from the reservoir rock, they may have reached the final depth. At this point, they remove the drilling apparatus from the hole and perform several tests to confirm the presence of oil. These tests are Well logging, Drill-stem testing, and Core samples.
Once the well is completed, the operators must start the flow of oil into the well. For limestone reservoir rock, acid is pumped down the well and out the perforations. For sandstone reservoir rock, a special blended fuel containing proppants is pumped down the well and out the perforations. The pressure from this fluid makes small fractures in the sandstone that allow oil to flow into the well, while the proppants hold these fractures open. Once the oil is flowing, the oilrig is removed from the site and production equipment is set up to extract the oil from the well.
Negative Impacts of Site Selection and Preparation “ Where indigenous people clash with development projects, the developers almost always win” -- The U.S State Department Photo courtesy of Project Underground http://www.moles.org/uwa/index.html
Although lease agreements, titles and right-of way accesses for the land must be obtained and evaluated legally, this is not the case
The Rainforest Action Network in an article named “Drilling to the Ends of the Earth,” states, “The U’wa of Colombia, the Karen of Burma, the Nahua of Peru– all of these indigenous peoples and dozens more are threatened by the global expansion of the oil industry.”
In the same article, it is said that, “The World Bank plans to fund an oil pipeline through Central African rainforests that will bring huge profits to Shell, Exxon, and Elf while causing environmental havoc.” Also, “The oil companies are about to build a 600-mile pipeline from the Daba oil fields in Chad to coastal Cameroon, slashing through fragile rainforest that is home to the Baka and Bakola peoples, communities of traditional hunters-gatherers.”
In Nigeria oil disasters are common and in one case 200 villagers died in a pipeline explosion in 2000. Often times safety standards are more lax in developing countries than developed countries– benefiting oil companies
The governments of nation states use bloody military tactics to quell uprisings and protests to oil fields by indigenous people who are protecting their land. These states are given money to exploit indigenous populations and are expected to protect the interests of the oil companies.
The Oil companies target the land of indigenous people.
The dumping of a million liters of waste into an abandoned oil well by Shell caused the presence of heavy metals at above acceptable limits and the unusually high concentrations of ions make the substance toxic. If these substances were to infiltrate the underground water or aquifer, it would have serious environmental and health implications.
The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Oil companies, and the governments of the world overlook environmental impact studies which conclude that oil extraction directly causes deforestation, poaching, loss of community land, water contamination, and health impacts to people, animal and flora life.
Occidental Petroleum built there production facilities of Cano Limon on a floodplain, causing flood waters to interact with open pit petroleum waste disposal sites carrying both the toxic and carcinogenic chemical waste directly into local waterways, depleting the water of oxygen and killing living organisms.
II. Crude Oil Distribution to Refineries http://www.schoolscience.co.uk/content/4/chemistry/fossils/p7.html
Oil fields and offshore oil rigs generally have hundreds of wells with flow lines that carry crude oil to the lease tanks. The crude oil flows from the wells to the unseen lease tanks via the flow lines, where it is accumulated, sampled and measured prior to further transportation via other connecting pipelines. Oil pipelines are considered to be a closed system since the chemicals theoretically don’t touch the environment, however leaks in the system do occur. Also, oil tankers bring oil to refineries and as was the case in the Exxon Valdez disaster, the environment suffers tremendously from oil production.
The coastal waters of north-west Spain support rich marine and bird life - virtually all of which is threatened by the Prestige oil spill.
Scientists are concerned about the threat to the Balearic shearwater bird because in 1991, the population was estimated to be approximately 3,300 breeding pairs, but by 2000 this had been reportedly reduced to between 1,750 and 2,125 pairs.
When the oil reaches coastal waters, it wreaks far more damage on fragile ecosystems, some of them vital to local human economies.
It is possible for shellfish to be tainted by the toxicity of the oil over periods of years.
This has severe implications for not only the shellfish populations themselves, but the creatures, including birds and humans, which feed on them
Oil spills occur all around the world and many disasters like this happened in the past and will continue in the future, causing widespread devastation to the environment and those entities which inhabit it.
Further chemical processing is required in order to make products such as gasoline of various grades, lubricating oils, kerosene, jet fuel, heating oil, chemicals for plastics and other polymers. It is possible to change one fraction into another through these three methods; cracking, unification, and alteration.
Cracking takes large hydrocarbons and breaks them into smaller ones.
Unification is the process where smaller hydrocarbons are combined to make larger ones. The main unification process is called catalytic reforming and uses a catalyst to combine low weight naphtha into aromatics which are used in making chemicals and in blending gasoline.
Alteration: The structures of molecules in one fraction are rearranged to produce another. Commonly this is done using alkylation- low molecular weight compounds are mixed in the presence of a catalysts such as hydrofluoric acid or sulfuric acid.
Distilled and chemically processed fractions are treated to remove impurities and is done by passing the fractions through the following: 1.A column of sulfuric acid 2. An absorption column filled with drying agents to remove water 3.Sulfur treatment and hydrogen-sulfide scrubbers to remove sulfur and sulfur compounds http://science.howstuffworks.com/oil-refining3.htm
Oil refining causes the destruction of vegetation, contaminates water supplies, causes respiratory problems, destroys land, and harms living organisms. The refineries are located in poor, predominately communities of color in urban and rural areas. Common in oil refineries are gas flares. Gas flaring releases carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur oxide, into the air and is extremely harmful to people– especially women who are pregnant , the young and elderly. This Chevron refinery accident in the background, which is located in Richmond, California, is common and caused more than 1,200 to show up at emergency rooms, complaining of breathing difficulties and eye irritations. Chevron claims this accident had no immediate life threatening danger to people in the surrounding area, however they fail to account for the bio-accumulation of particulate toxins that are embedded in the lungs of workers and neighbors. Refineries run by the likes of BP Amoco and others have spewed toxic waste into the workplace, as well as the air and groundwater of neighboring communities, for decades. This behavior has severely affected the health and safety of refinery workers. It has left the refineries' neighbors - often poor communities of color - dirty water and air, low property values and depressing nick names such as "cancer alley." ---corpwatch.org
Today’s Oil Refinery Environmental Disaster in the Bay Area April 29, 2004
A pipeline that pumps petroleum from refineries in the San Francisco Bay area ruptured and spilled an estimated 60,000 gallons of diesel fuel into a marsh that serves as a nesting ground for migratory birds.
Several dead animals, mostly ducks, were found at the scene.
The marsh, located just north of Suisun Bay, covers 57,000 acres and is home to about 700,000 birds, including migratory shorebirds and raptors.
III: From Refinery to the Marketplace http://chevron.com/
Oil, Gasoline, Polymers, and Plastics are moved around to the marketplace in trucks, trains, ships and via pipelines
Tanker trucks hold around 9,000 gallons of gasoline
Tanker ships hold around 1.26 million barrels of oil
It would take 14 and a quarter tanker ships to carry all the oil that the U.S consumes in one day
The U.S alone has over 200,000 miles of oil pipelines
Numerous cases of land, ocean and lake spills of petroleum have been detected all over the world, causing the irregular operation of petroleum pumping, fluid transport, tank storage, plant and refinery, and maritime and truck transport facilities. The spills and leaks of petroleum and refined products have been detected from: overflowing tanks, leaking extraction and pumping stations, ocean tankers and tank trucks. Petroleum and derivatives have spilled into lakes, the ocean, and land areas surrounding industry facilities. Loaded tank trucks have overturned, spilling diesel and gasoline fuel on roads and highways.
Methyl tertiary butyl ether -- a gasoline additive that is carcinogenic has been detected in so many wells, lakes and underground aquifers across the country that MTBE contamination is a major environmental problem.
In California -- home to 27 million vehicles and more than 9,500 gas stations -- MTBE has contaminated 10,000 shallow groundwater sites, including 1,000 in the Bay Area. It has also been found in dozens of the state's lakes and reservoirs, including Shasta, Tahoe and Donner in the north and Castaic, Pyramid and Perris in the south.
The U.S. Geological Survey has found the controversial additive in more than a quarter of the nation's shallow urban wells, as well as in streams, lakes, rain and snow.
Researchers have found that MTBE can cause cancer in animals, and they believe it is a potential carcinogen in human beings.
In South Lake Tahoe, leaks at underground gas station tanks have caused the water district to close 12 of 34 wells.
Carbon dioxide is released to the atmosphere when fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal), are burned.
Plastics are dumped into landfills if not recycled and seep into the earth over time.
An oil well can produce at least 1,500 tons of toxic drilling muds which are dumped into rivers, streams and soils.
Wastewater from the petrochemical industry contains hazardous chemicals, such as hydrocarbons, phenol or ammoniacal nitrogen among others
The average refinery generates 10,000 gallons a day of waste that contains many toxic chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, breathing problems and other serious health effects.
Refineries create an unfair burden of pollution and economic injustice because they mostly exist in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods. These communities pay a huge price while the rest of society collects more of the benefits.
Rising global temperatures are expected to raise sea level, and change precipitation and other local climate conditions. Changing regional climate could alter forests, crop yields, and water supplies. It could also affect human health, animals, and many types of ecosystems. Deserts may expand into existing rangelands, and features of some of our National Parks may be permanently altered. Most of the United States is expected to warm, although sulfates may limit warming in some areas. Scientists currently are unable to determine which parts of the United States will become wetter or drier, but there is likely to be an overall trend toward increased precipitation and evaporation, more intense rainstorms, and drier soils.
Focusing our attention on the aspects of race, class and oil, my thoughts about the lifecycle of oil is that the world needs oil, just not as much oil. It is unfortunate that oil companies profit at the expense of the environment and people based on race, and class. What angers me the most is the oil companies don’t care about their actions but instead are preoccupied with greed. I find it sad that the top 20% of oil consumers consume 80% at the expense of poor and minority communities who are barely benefiting from it, if at all. Although the entire world is negatively impacted by oil consumption, poor and minority communities are overburdened by the Condoleezza Rice’s, George Bush’s, Dick Cheney’s, of the world amongst others who highly profit from it. I find it also disgusting that the above listed shady characters are the leaders of the biggest oil consumer, the United States. Furthermore, not enough is being done to implement alternatives, many of which can be widely mainstreamed into society.
It’s not bloody likely that the oil companies are going to stop producing oil however you can reduce their profits. As a consumer, we can make choices that will lessen the impact that oil has on race, poverty, and the environment. So as much as you can, ride your bike, take public transportation, buy a hybrid car, set your thermostat to 65 degrees, use solar power, don’t buy a SUV, and for god’s sake don’t vote for George Bush in 2004.
Economides, Michael and Oligney, Ronald. The Color of Oil . Texas: Round Oak Publishing. 2000
Olukoya, Sam. Environmental Justice from the Niger Delta to the World Conference Against Racism. http:// www.corpwatch.org/issues/PID.jsp?articleid =18 . Race, Poverty, and the Urban Environment Reader. Professor Pinderhughes. 10 April 2004
Sheppard, Nora. Introduction to the Oil Pipeline Industry. Texas The University of Texas at Austin. 1984
Turcotte, Heather. National, International and Global Security Issues Within Petroleum Production. Turkish Journal of International Relations Volume 1 Number 4. http: www.alternativesjournal.com