We all know that oil spills can be an absolutely devastating disaster, but do we truly know what the main causes of oil spills are? We may think we know, based on what the news tells us, but from the research I have done on it, oil spills can be caused by much more than just one person’s error. While we may never fully be able to pinpoint what causes specific oil spills, there are some main factors that can attribute to an oil spill, which I will explain in this article.
One of the ways that oil spills can be caused is an effect of the stress that is commonly put on tankers and vessels. We must transport oil to and fro, and that oil is contained in a vessel or a tanker, making it easier for transport. However, as with any other type of machinery, when used for long periods of time, there will be wear and tear on the equipment, and this can cause leaks or ruptures. Also, there is the danger of these vessels exploding as well. Although this isn’t that common, because of the large amount of oil leaked in one of these situations, they can be quite disastrous.
Another way that oil leaks or spills are caused is by natural disasters. First of all, there are many oil reserves underneath the ocean floor, which is of course why we commonly drill offshore. Sometimes, the earth’s tectonic plates shift, causing the oil trapped under the floor to be leaked out. The storage of oil is done above ground in tankers, and if there is an earthquake or hurricane in the area of the tanker, than extensive damage can be done to that tanker, causing leaks or even a spill.
Failure in the drilling system can also be a major cause for oil leaks and spills. Sometimes caused by human error, sometimes the work of nature or general wear-down of mechanisms, when drilling either on land or on ocean floor, if the drilling system experiences a failure or a malfunction, this can have devastating effects on the surroundings. There should be, and in most cases there is, an emergency plan in place in the event something like this happens, but in some cases, the spill is too great for anybody to do anything. Even with frequent maintenance, the drilling systems can malfunction or break down out of nowhere, which is why some people believe that we shouldn’t drill at all.
As you can see, there are many causes for oil spills and leaks, and they are not all caused by human error. Oftentimes, when disasters like this happen, people are looking for someone to blame, and this causes most of us to believe that something could have been done to avoid the spill. But, nature and general wear and tear can cause these spills as well, which of course leads to the bigger question – is it worth it to continue to drill for oil?