Environmental impacts of petroleum engineering



The exploration, production, and refining of petroleum are some of the primary economic activities in some countries. Petroleum exploration and production are of critical importance as it provides energy that is useful in driving the global economy. The globe has exhibited a greater demand for energy a factor that explains why the processes of petroleum exploration and production remain significant. However, there is evidence that the processes involved in petroleum exploration and production may register adverse environmental effects. It is impossible to assume the adverse environmental effects brought about by the processes of petroleum engineering. It is apparent that the processes have served to compromise the efforts geared towards environmental protection. This paper will address the environmental impacts of the petroleum engineering processes.


There is evidence that petroleum exploration and production registers detrimental effects on the atmosphere. Particularly, the globe has exhibited concern over the increasing rates of global warming. Petroleum exploration and production lead to an increased level of greenhouse gas emissions. For this reason, the processes involved in the production of petroleum only serve to enhance global warming due to the greenhouse gas emissions. Despite the existing standards that govern the petroleum production, it is impossible to eliminate any greenhouse gas emissions (Orszulik 34). As more companies explore the availability of oil, there is an increasing risk to the environment. Currently, the globe does not have a reliable solution of undoing the adverse effects of global warming. Many developing and developed countries have expressed their concern over the increasing rates of greenhouse gas emission. Although the globe needs energy, there is a need to consider the adverse effects of petroleum engineering processes.

The process of petroleum production leads to the discharge of hydrocarbons into the environment. Some of these hydrocarbons pose a major safety and health risk to human beings. There have been reported cases of both acute and chronic toxicity exhibited by people who encounter petroleum hydrocarbons. Some companies in the industry do not give attention to the proper measures of mitigating the risk. As a result, people living in proximity to petroleum companies are vulnerable to developing toxicity to the substances they inhale. It is clear that failure to observe safety measures can threaten the lives of employees as well as the well-being of the surrounding community (Matanovic, Gaurina-Medimurec, and Simon 48). When the atmosphere has an increased level of contamination, it becomes difficult for people to continue enjoying clean oxygen. Recent studies have demonstrated that communities living near petroleum companies may be at a higher risk of developing diseases such as cancer due to the extended contamination of the atmosphere by petroleum hydrocarbons.

Liquid affluence from the production companies has also proven to be a major contaminant of water sources. The affluence contains highly toxic materials that cause adverse effects on the aquatic organisms. Failure to dispose of the affluence appropriately explains why they find their way into rivers, posing a great threat to the environment as well as to human beings consuming the water (Kutz and Elkamel 72). For instance, many countries with numerous petroleum companies have exhibited the presence of water contamination due to the inappropriate disposal of liquid affluence. Many water sources that serve as the dumping site for the liquid affluence are unable to support life due to the toxic components. It is unfortunate that these processes lead to the contamination of water as the globe seeks sources of clean drinking water. In many parts of the world, the population lacks access to clean drinking water. As a result, there has been a quest to curb water pollution to protect the resources for the future generation. However, the level of pollution taking place in many petroleum production centers only limit the hope of having a globe that has sufficient and safe water. Abandoned oil wells have also contributed to the contamination of ground water, making it impossible to access water.

The discharge of solid wastes into the environment has proven to be a major health hazard. These solid wastes may contain metal components that affect either human beings or other organisms in the natural food chain. The efforts to decontaminate the environment and eliminate the solid wastes are less likely to be sufficient in neutralizing the risk that people face (Fanchi and Christiansen 21). The spillage of crude oil during transportation also can affect the environment adversely. Components of the crude oil have proven to be toxic and posing a major risk to the environment. The growth of plants is practically impossible when metal components from solid wastes pollute the soil. Additionally, liquid affluence may also contaminate the soil, making plant growth impossible. Oil companies have been unable to control the disposal of both solid and liquid wastes with the purpose of protecting the environment.

Petroleum production companies also release sulfur components, ammonia oxides, as well as nitrogen oxides that have adverse effects on plant and animal life. Particulate emissions are also a significant cause of concern because they affect the growth of plants and animals. Many companies fail to take measures of mitigating potential risks to the environment. As a result, human beings have to pay a heavy price for the continued production of petroleum because of environmental degradation. Studies cite the processes of petroleum production as some of the leading causes of pollution in both the developing and developed world (Orszulik 39). There is a need for a better understanding on the toxicity levels of the emitted compounds.


Evidently, petroleum exploration and production pose a major threat to environmental preservation. The different processes involved in oil production register adverse environmental effects. Different governments have established measures and standards of minimizing the levels of environmental degradation. However, the standards have proven insufficient in the efforts to promote a safe environment suitable for both plant and animal growth. The need for better strategies for the reduction of contamination is evident. The petroleum industry needs to establish proper regulatory measures that will protect the environment for the future generation. As the world seeks to increase its energy supply, there should be a level of consideration of the potential adverse effects of exploiting petroleum sources.

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  1. Fanchi, John R, and Richard L. Christiansen. Introduction to Petroleum Engineering. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2017. Print.
  2. Kutz, Myer, and Ali Elkamel. Environmentally Conscious Fossil Energy Production. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley, 2010. Print.
  3. Matanovic, Davorin, Nedilijka Gaurina-Medimurec, and Katarina Simon. Risk Analysis for Prevention of Hazardous Situations in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering. Hershey, PA : Engineering Science Reference, 2014. Print.
  4. Orszulik, S T. Environmental Technology in the Oil Industry. Cham: Springer, 2016. Internet resource.
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