How Offshore Drilling Works

By Berry Dann, Julianna Dietz, and Sarah Ward The Ocean Foundation

With 2020 and ‘first oil’ on the horizon the Stabroek Business seeks to provide readers with insights into aspects of the sector and its operations including issues relating to the processes and risks associated with the recovery process. This article, sourced from The Ocean Foundation (see brief biographical note below) takes a candid look at some of the processes that attend the oil recovery process and what, frequently, is the tightrope which oil recovery operations walk between success and what, not infrequently can be widespread environmental disaster. 

On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez had just entered the frigid waters of Alaska’s Prince William Sound, when the tanker, freshly filled with crude oil, crashed into Bligh Reef, wrecking its hull on impact. Within hours, approximately 11 million gallons of oil had poured into the ocean, thus triggering one of the most devastating environmental disasters in U.S. history. Nearly three decades later, crude oil can still be found clinging to boulders across more than 1,000 miles of Alaskan coastline. Although exceptional in its scope, the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster was hardly the first or last of its kind. Such is the hazardous nature of the oil industry.

Offshore drilling (i.e. the process of extracting petroleum from rock formations under the ocean floor) is high-risk at even the most routine stages of exploration, extraction and exportation…..

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