Oil and gas platforms

Birds covered in oil and tar masses in cliff faces are well-known images and common examples for the devastating effects of oil and gas mining in the ocean. But the offshore platforms also allow oil to enter the ocean. The platforms themselves inhibit the ecosystem, as well as the people living in the area and fishermen alike. The allocation of licences for these platforms should be put under strict regulations and environmental protection requirements. The precautionary measures that are in place in the shallow waters should also be implemented in other areas. These measures should, for example, be put into action with the increasing deep sea drillings off the coast of Scotland and in the Gulf of Mexico. The plan for drilling in the National Wildlife Refuge off the Alaskan coast is not to be permitted: Thus far, no one in the oil industry has been able to prove that they would be capable to react appropriately to a spillage in the region. The effects on the ecosystem of one of the most productive zones of the arctic would be devastating.
Along with the dangers of the drillings themselves oil and gas mining also poses other threats: The sounds of the seismic explorations, the water and air pollution, and turbidity due to coastal developments. Further, the deep sea drillings endanger a highly species rich ecosystem: cold water coral reefs along the continental fringes.
The oil and gas explorations in deeper waters off the coast must be put under more stringent regulations and guidelines. Laws that support the offshore industry should be rejected, as long as there is no convincing proof of its environmental safety. Together with other environmental organisations we support the efforts against the US-oil extraction in the highly sensitive region in the so-called National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Through the creation of marine protected areas more regions along the outer shelf sea must be kept out of bounds for the oil industry, in order to allow the valuable fish stocks to recuperate and to protect the ecosystem.

Text: Onno Groß, 2016