Saturday, March 22, 2008


I have accomplished a few good bits of research for my Research Paper. I have found a few digital sources online through the HBLL as well as 2 books so far for my topic, effects of petroleum and natural gas on the environment.

The first book is Drilling Discharges in the Marine Environment. This book is very straight forward in its approach to explain studies on the waste of offshore oil rigs. The preface contains an “Origin of the Study” which states (much like a thesis), “A variety of wastes are generated in drilling oil and gas wells, including drill cuttings and used drilling fluids. The disposal of these wastes is licensed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) (40 CFR 122-125). Permitting such discharges on the outer continental shelf (OCS) has occasioned considerable public debate about how much they may harm the marine environment.”

The book is written in the form of a report. It is about 180 pages in length. As for the effects of drilling on marine pollution I think this book will be my strongest resource. One drawback is the age of the book. Written in 1983, this has likely become an old issue. However, I am aware that these rigs still dump waste into the ocean, posing the same threats as before.

The second book I have is called Response of Marine Animals to Petroleum and Specific Petroleum Hydrocarbons. This book covers, a little more indirectly, the effects of oil drilling on marine life. This text shows the effects of accidental oil spills and oil leaks from boats or drill rigs. The preface contains this statement giving light on the content of this book, “From these investigations has come the increased realization that deleterious impacts of oil on the marine ecosystem may persist long after the visible oil pollution has been cleaned up or washed away.”

This book is written in response to studies and reflects this in its style. It is also about 180 pages long. As for content, it will be a support to the assertions made in the book mentioned above. This book is also older -1981. I have actually had some difficulty finding recent publications on this topic.

One compelling online source offers a downloadable PDF titled Statistical Analyses Supporting Final Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for Synthetic-Based Drilling Fluids and other Non-Aqueous Drilling Fluids in the Oil and Gas Extraction Point Source Category composed by the EPA. This is also about 180 pages of information.

At this point my thesis statement will likely resemble the following: “Due to the destructive nature of natural gas and petroleum exploration installation, operation, and waste it is harmful to natural habitats, creatures, and the environment.”

I feel that this is a good topic for me for several reasons. First is that I have a direct investment in drilling operations. I currently work for an exploratory drill bit manufacturer in Murray, UT. I have a slightly more privileged view of the inner workings of the natural gas and oil exploration industry. I am personally curious about this topic.

Also, by virtue of my job, I have access to rig location maps and specialized trade magazines. These things allow me to more accurately and more conveniently assess the realities of modern drilling techniques. Although some of these materials are proprietary and cannot ethically be used or cited in my research paper, I can still gain insight by comparisons of materials, i.e. market expansion, new directions, shifts in trends.

I feel that this fits well with this assignment as well. The best argument for a good fit for this assignment is that it fits well with the outlined specifications; namely: be about the environment. I feel that I will be able to find enough published information about this topic while keeping my topic specific and interesting. I do believe that I can produce a concise essay of 10 pages or more from the materials that are available to me.

Also, I understand that there is an opportunity, if I do well, to have my work once again published. As I understand it, BYU’s environment department is looking for interesting articles for their compiled publication Borrowed Earth. If I feel that my paper topic is relevant and powerful, I will likely submit my work to be considered for publication. Thus, this assignment will have given me the drive and initiative to try to get published in a reputable work. The satisfaction and fulfillment that would come from such an accomplishment may urge me to seek occasion to publish myself again and again throughout my life.

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