The environmental risks pertaining to oilfield operations have been a hot topic recently among industry analysts. Even as officials continue to adamantly deny that fracking is environmentally dangerous, many green activists insist pollution in certain areas is linked to increased oilfield production.
But some claims, even those backed by evidence, are being countered by those in favor of increased production. In Colorado, environmentalists are pointing toward a boom in oil and gas drilling as a reason why pollution is increasing in the area. However, pollution is decreasing in Texas, even though the state has experienced similar production growth.
The discrepancy has caused a widening of the rift between drilling advocates and some of the industry's biggest opponents. However, the x-factor may simply lie in the oilfield equipment. Ultimately, it may not be the volume of oil removed from the ground that impacts the environment, but rather the method in extraction. According to a report in The Huffington Post, pollution may be caused by well and valve leaks and the severity may vary depending on a number of factors, including weather conditions.
Russell Schnell, deputy director of the federal Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, told the news source that drilling can be dangerous, just like anything else, but it can be safe if proper precautions are taken and best practices are followed.
"It's like a vehicle. Some cars drip oil," Schnell said. "You have wells that are absolutely tight. And you have other places where a valve gives out, and you have huge leaks."
Ultimately, it's up to oilfield producers to acquire the proper tools needed to safely extract oil while mitigating potential hazards. Efficient operations can reduce environmental impact while cutting costs and increasing production. Companies looking to improve their practices should contact an oilfield solutions provider.