What Are the Negative Effects of Oil Drilling?

Oil drilling is necessary for extracting crude oil from underground reservoirs, but there are many negative effects that result from this environmentally invasive process. As noted by LiveScience, oil drilling can destroy whole ecosystems, introduce pollutants into the atmosphere, and displace human and animal populations, among other negative effects.

Crude oil is a natural by-product of the decomposition of prehistoric plant and animal remains into liquid form. This liquid is trapped in underground reservoirs, and its extraction is accomplished by exploring, drilling and then siphoning the liquid into storage vessels.

During the exploration process, oil companies can use seismic waves to locate underground reservoirs. However, the introduction of artificial sonar in marine habitats can damage the echolocation capabilities of whales, dolphins and porpoises, contributing to strandings and beachings. Additionally, while the use of seismic waves helps oil companies to find the general locations of oil reservoirs, it may take multiple drilling iterations to tap in.

During the drilling process, a drill bit is attached to the end of a pipe and lowered to the drilling site, chewing away at the rock and soil layers until a known or suspected oil reservoir is located. Although metal pipes are used for their strength and durability, they are prone to corrosion and are susceptible to damage or failure. Failure means a pipe breaks, so in addition to the metal damage at the drilling site, oil and metal particles can leak out and pollute the collocated ecosystem. This means that plants and animals can die as a result, and it can take years or even decades for an ecosystem to recover. Additionally, humans living around the drilling area can face water and land usability issues, which can result in population displacement.