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The Impacts of Offshore Oil Drilling on Marine Ecology

 
Table of Contents
Introduction.. 3
Problem of the statement 4
Rationale for the research.. 5
Statement of the research objectives. 5
Hypothesis. 6
Definition of terms. 6
Summary. 7
Literature Review.. 7
Methodology. 9
Participants. 10
Research Design.. 10
Data Collection plans. 10
Data analysis. 11
Implication and limitation. 11
References. 13
Appendices. 14
Budget 14
Questionnaire. 15
 
 
 
The Impacts of Offshore Oil Drilling on Marine Ecology
Introduction
The continued desire to have oil energy has made the exploration of oil to take a different turn. Oil has become highly beneficial, leading to novel techniques of extracting it. Offshore oil drilling has been one of the new techniques to extract oil. Offshore oil exploration essentially encompasses an oil extraction method, whereby oil drilling companies extract the oil under a large mass of water. The off shore drilling of oil was established in 1938 in the Gulf of Mexico. However, the initial concept of offshore drilling dates back in 1887 when a wooden wharf well was drilled in California (Treehugger, 2009).
With time, other regions of the world followed suit and by 1970’s the most devastating environmental effects were first witnessed in the world. Offshore oil drilling became highly contentious in late 1970’s occasioning considerable bans specifically on offshore drilling. Unlike the land exploration, whereby the sites are constructed on land, offshore oil drilling sites are created under the continental shelf. Globally, offshore drilling is universally accepted, and various regulatory frameworks have been laid down. Amidst the benefits associated with offshore oil drilling, many people do not easily accept it due to the environmental concerns associated with the entire process of offshore drilling (WiseGeek, 2009). There are numerous steps, which constitute offshore oil drilling.
Initially, the process of drilling was through oil rig, which mainly relied on the depth of the shelf where the exploration was to take place. In addition, the nature of the oil and prevailing circumstances are factors to be considered in oil rig drilling. The advent of technology has seen major improvements in the form of drilling. This has ensured that effective measures to prevent oil spills are strictly followed. The technological advancement, especially offshore oil drilling engineers in the field of oil exploration, brought about floating rig as a method of oil extraction. In recent years, offshore oil drilling is conducted on ships (WiseGeek, 2009).
The main cause for investigating the impacts of the BP oil spill is to answer the essential question of the impacts of the offshore exploration. The most disadvantageous aspect of offshore drilling is that it raises serious environmental negative effects. The grave danger subjected to marine ecology is worth consideration and cannot be underestimated. The primary cause of environmental hazards from offshore oil drilling is through pollution. The said pollution is due to reckless and careless maintenance of the operated rigs. Further, oil spills are said to be the most common form of pollution at sea or ocean floor. In instances where seepage occurs during drilling, metal pollution is witnessed. Though it has been argued that rigs offer shelter to marine animals such as birds, it is evident that marine life is highly disrupted (WiseGeek, 2009).
Problem of the statement
With the increased offshore oil exploration in the world today, there is an alarming environmental risk that is worth examination. Offshore oil drilling has continuously presented environmental pollution risks. The covering of the sea water by oil makes the penetration of oxygen impossible. Thus, the aquatic animals may suffocate to death. Also, the sea plants that require sunlight will die. Global warming, in situations whereby the spilled oil burns, has had the effect of killing essential aquatic micro-organisms hence endangering the surviving species and presenting a global environmental situation. Marine ecology has been substantially disrupted leading to severe living conditions in the sea. Notably, the situation witnessed during the BP oil spill in the Mexican shore with analysis of how the environmental risks evidenced need to be addressed.
The environmental concerns presented by offshore drilling need to be averted. This research seeks to offer viable data to end speculation and assist in showing the position of the world’s offshore oil drilling effects. The ecosystems useful for marine animals are repeatedly distorted by oil spills hence requiring attention from environmentalists. There are different indicators that show the effects of human activities on the environment. Oil spills can bring about environmental crises of different kinds. Certain global ecological crises may result to losing of species on earth. The most common can be depicted by the extinction of dinosaurs. Oil spills causes marine organisms to move in one place while running away from the oil. Many organisms run to one place and this lead into congestion and unhealthy competition by the organisms for the limited food stuff. Worse still, food chains are interfered with compelling some organisms to feed on other organisms. The oil spill situation causes an imbalance in the marine setting requiring clean up. Sometimes, the clean-up is not a sure way of ensuring that the effects of the oil spill are counteracted.
Rationale for the research
The main purpose of this research is to identify the environmental hazards occasioned by offshore oil drilling. Further, the research offers knowledge basing on the BP oil spill case. Subsequently, the research is essential in identifying the appropriate ways of curbing pollution through oil spills. In addition, the research intents to create awareness about offshore oil drilling companies, environmental activists, and other key stakeholders. This is in respect to issues pertaining to environmental risks associated with offshore drilling. The research is essential to policy creators to assess the risks created and the likely regulations required for curbing the said pollution. The study sets the body of information, which upon accomplishment, offers solid solutions to marine ecology problems linked with offshore oil drilling.
Statement of the research objectives
The general objective of the study is to examine the impacts of offshore oil drilling on marine ecology. The specific objectives of the research are as follows: The purpose and the objective of the study are to identify the key environmental risks of offshore oil drilling on marine ecology. Secondly, the research intends to understand the distinct ways in which marine ecology is disrupted by pollution through offshore oil drilling. Thirdly, the research study aims at determining the possible causes, effects, and solutions of off shore oil drilling to marine ecology with a specific attention to the affected aquatic animals. Fourthly, the research will compare the data available to the prevailing environmental concerns. Fifth, the research seeks to investigate the possible solutions to the offshore oil drilling pollutions.
Hypothesis
There are two hypotheses for this study. The first hypothesis for this study is that offshore oil drilling negatively affects the marine ecology. The other hypothesis is that off shore drilling does not have negative effects on the marine ecology.
Definition of terms

Aquatic animals are animals that dwell in the water.
Continental shelf is the ground under the water mass of a sea or an ocean
Marine ecology is defined as the interactions of bio organisms and the surrounding environment which includes biotic and abiotic processes.
Offshore oil drilling is defined as the extraction method whereby oil is drilled from the undersea water mainly in the continental shelf.

Summary
The topic under study is introduced with a major highlight on what is to be covered in the research. This research proposal starts from the introduction whereby offshore oil drilling is given a definition. The other elements of the study include a statement of the problem, the rationale of the study, objectives, hypothesis, definition of terms, literature review, methodology, participants and the implication and limitation of the research. The references and the appendices are also considered.
Literature Review
The following is the available accessible literature review concerning the impacts of offshore oil drilling to marine ecology. In particular, the literature will concentrate on the case study of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The literature review will mainly entail books, articles, governmental agencies, journals, and other relevant sources.
The BP oil spill, famously known as Deep Water Horizon, occurred on April 20, 2010 whereby an oil rig ignited and burned for two days. It is estimated that 185 million gallons of oil got spilled (Robinson & Richard, 2010). For many years, the nature and effects of environmental impacts has been subject to debates. There has been a debate to address complex issues that are intertwined with the offshore oil drilling on aquatic ecosystems. Substantial research show that the different types of offshore oil drilling process, transportation, and refining exposes water, air and land to various pollutants. The by-products of these processes affect marine life (National Center for Environmental Economics, 2012).
Offshore oil drilling has in recent years raised a couple of questions worth to be examined. There are numerous effects of the toxic substances generated by offshore oil drilling. The connection between oil spills in seas and oceans compares to the foreseeable effects on the lives of marine wildlife. The main cause of pollution, which endangers marine live, is through oil spills. Research shows that between 1964 and 1965, twenty one spills are said to have occurred. It is also estimated that increase of drilling sites will also have an increase in the spilling of oil. The main causes of oil spills either during the development or production of oil are said to affect the marine ecology. Tanker accidents and pipe leakages are the sole contributors of oil spills. Reports on oil spills indicate that tanker mishaps highly occasions oil spills (Culture Change, 2010).
The effects of oil spills on marine ecology have been categorized into two. First, there is the short term impact of oil spill. In this case, there is the disruption of the natural processes of marine organisms. However, it is said that the oil spilled in some instances may not negatively affect the lives of marine organisms. This is because other factors such as the prevailing weather conditions may mitigate the effect of the spill. The natural methods based on weather conditions have also led to chronic pollution, which lasts for years (Marinebio, 2012).
The data available suggests that oil pollution reduces the production of biomass in marine lives. The marine organisms are affected by the disruptions on the dwelling places of the organisms. The marine food ecosystem is also affected. In addition, oil spills have the effect of coating water hence making birds lose their buoyancy. Cases of dead seabirds have been reported due to oil spills (CultureChange, 2010).
Offshore rigs are said to produce a thread of pollution which adversely affect the health of fish and other marine organisms. Further, oil spills activities cause massive destructions on kelp beds and coastal wetlands. With time, an estimate of ninety thousand metric tons of fluids used for drilling and metal cuttings is deposited in the sea or ocean. It is reported that a drill of fifty to a hundred wells deposits twenty thousand pounds of toxic metals into the ocean (Marinebio, 2012). The growing threat of offshore oil drilling is evident, and the search for stable oil production has made the previous bans on offshore oil drilling impossible to implement. The debate regarding the impacts of offshore drilling has its roots in the dire need to establish how much oil could be generated versus the cost incurred in the production process. In recent years, the debate has taken a different shape whereby the potential environmental impacts are put into consideration (Marinebio, 2012).
The BP oil spill has been termed as the worst environmental disaster. The environmental problems, which stemmed from the incidence, have continuously caused problems to humans, non-humans, and aquatic animals. Arguably, the environmental risk is not posed during the time of drilling, but the greatest threat is during the transportation of the drilled oil from one point to the other. Some assurances have been put across to the effect that technological improvements assist in reducing oil spills. The potential extension of oil spills to other areas is still a point worth attention. In the past, offshore drilling had been banned in various regions and companies given a moratorium. With the removal of the ban, areas once restricted were opened for oil exploration. Available data further suggest that the offshore drilling does not have a significant increase in the oil production (Marinebio, 2012).
Though a bigger portion of the literature collected illustrates that marine ecology is negatively affected by offshore oil drilling, it is imperative to note that the oil rigs are used by sea birds for shelter. It follows that the effects of offshore oil drilling ought to be assessed through weighing the negative and the relatively positive side of offshore oil drilling (Robinson, 2010).
Methodology
The methodology for this research will be the case study method. The BP oil spill is famously known as the deep water horizon and the effects experienced after the spill. The relationship of the study to the marine ecology will be considered. The case study technique is geared towards achieving a comparative method to assist in drawing the appropriate conclusions. The main deductions of a qualitative research are to be used to reach at a point of getting concrete data. The circumstances surrounding the case study are relevant and will be considered to arrive at reliable results.
Participants
The main participants of the research will include the government agencies that handled the case of the BP oil spill, non-governmental organization and other governmental, environment departments. The directors of BP and other key environmental agencies will be the main respondents. Participants in the research will include the officials of the mentioned agencies. In every agency, four or five officials will be selected. The mode of selection in this research will be the random selection.
Research Design
Research design encompasses data collection, data analysis, and methods of data collection. In this research, data collection will be through mailing the research questionnaires to the participants. An immediate follow up will be made through e-mail sent to the participants to ensure that the questions are answered. The research relies on questionnaires as the sole mode of data collection. The collected data will be subjected to qualitative analysis whereby the primary data in the questionnaires will be analyzed. The data analyses will be ready for use in formulating the appropriate conclusions.
Data Collection plans
Worth noting is the fact that data collection is the backbone of any research undertaking. The appropriate data collection plan for the research is designing of questionnaires. Considering the distance between the researcher and the participants, it will be beneficial to mail them. Questionnaires designed specifically to the BP company officials, and are intended to be administered through a mail. Data collection from the participants shall be designed through questionnaires whereby the questionnaires are mailed to the participants. A follow-up through a phone call is highly relevant to attain a high rate of response. In addition, the desired high response can be facilitated by assisting the respondents go through the questionnaire via a phone call.
Data analysis
The data collected from participants will be subjected to qualitative analysis. Essentially, the process of data analysis in this research entails considering the data gathered in the research and eventually using it to arrive at conclusions. Qualitative methods for data analysis employed to deduce the data gathered through questionnaires.
Implication and limitation
There are numerous implications and limitations of the research. First, the proposed sample may not represent the entire population. Therefore, the conclusions drawn through the use of the sample may not be entirely reliable. Since the research questionnaires are to be mailed, there are high chances of the questionnaires being ignored and all information provided by the respondents in the questionnaires may not be genuine. The questionnaires may be marred by untruthful answers, which lead to the wrong deductions. The specific case study does not have a wide range of population. Therefore, the selected sample of participants may offer limited information according to the scope of their understanding.
The research is limited by lack of many cases of studies. The narrowing down of the study to the BP oil spill case is restrictive in nature since the population is small. This will greatly affect the nature of selecting participants. Further, the use of BP officials presents a remarkably viable question on the objective of the information given. There is a likelihood that the data offered may be one sided hence affecting the conclusions reached. The issue of respondents taking a stand to cover up what transpired may be witnessed in the research. This can affect the reliability of the data collected.
The process of mailing may be costly, and the questionnaires may be ignored. The researcher may find it hard to distribute the questionnaire. The questionnaires were mailed to the participants, and this cannot provide proof that the intended participants received the questionnaires. Given that this study is highly contentious, respondents may tend to avoid giving straight forward answers on the questions asked.

 
 
References
CultureChange (2010).No Offshore Oil Drilling: Committee against Oil Exploration(CAOE)Retrieved fromhttp://www.culturechange.org/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=637            &Itemid=1
Marinebio, H. (2012).Marine Ecology.Retrieved from                                        http://marinebio.org/oceans/marine-ecology.asp
National Center for Environmental Economics (2012).Environmental Management Systems: InformingOrganizationalDecisions. Retrieved from: http://yosemite.epa.gov/ee/epa/eed.nsf/08fff10959725aba852575a6006ab35f/e82df58dfcbda0b4852575a7005e937a!
Robinson, R. A. (2010). The Gulf of Mexico oil disaster: A case study on theprojectedeconomic impact on tourism among the Gulf States of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.Retrieved from: http://digitalcommons.library.unlv.edu/thesesdissertations/566
Treehugger, Y. (2009).OffshoreDrilling: Is Energy Worth the Ecological Disaster of Oil Spills?Retrieved from:http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/offshore-drilling-is energy-worth-the-ecological-disaster-of-oil-spills.html
WiseGeek.(2009).What is Offshore Oil Drilling? Retrieved from:         http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-offshore-oil-drilling.html
 
 
Appendices
The research will take 6months.Two months for data collection. Three months for data analysis and one month for ascertaining the validity of the data collected and analysed
Budget
An estimate of hundred dollars will be enough for postage charges. An equivalent amount is also required for the personnel to assist is sorting out the questionnaires and entering the data in computer. A computer will be needed to type the questionnaires. The collected data may require a step for verification before it is analyzed hence one hundred dollars will be required to pay the personnel for those services.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Questionnaire
1.FirstName………….. Last Name……………
2.Dateof…………………………………..
3. What is your Age……………………………..

Gender: Male……..     Female……………….
What are the major environmental risks of offshore oil drilling on marine ecology?

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

What are the distinct ways in which marine ecology is disrupted by pollutions through offshore oil drilling?

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

What are the effects of off shore oil drilling to marine ecology?

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
 


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