Let's talk pollution

In today's world, there is no doubt that there is a growing concern for our planets health and longevity. Pollution and global warming are major issues that we must all strive to improve. Like most industries, the oil & gas, energy and industrial industry is continually researching and developing new ways to reduce emissions.

Petroleum is a naturally occurring liquid oil normally found in deposits beneath the surface of the earth. It is a type of oil composed of rock minerals, making it different from other kinds of oils that come from plants and animals (such as vegetable oil, animal fat, or essential oils). The word petroleum comes from the Latin words petra (rock) and oleum (oil), and so literally means rock oil. Despite this, petroleum is an organic compound, formed from the remains of microorganisms living millions of years ago. It is one of the three main fossil fuels, along with coal and natural gas. 

The oil & gas and energy industry includes a wide range of operations and equipment, from wells to natural gas gathering lines, processing facilities, storage tanks, transmission and distribution pipelines and refineries. 


The industry is the largest industrial source of emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC's), a group of chemicals that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone (smog). Exposure to ozone is linked to a wide range of health effects, including aggravated asthma, increased emergency room visits and hospital admissions, and premature death. EPA estimates VOC emission from the oil & natural gas industry at 2.2 million tons a year in 2008. The oil and natural gas industry also is a significant source of emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas that is more than 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide. Emissions of air toxins such as benzene, ethylbenzene, and n-hexane, also come from this industry. Air toxics are pollutants known, or suspected of causing cancer and other serious health effects. In areas where oil and gas development is prevalent, air, water and soil resources can become contaminated with oil and gas wastes and byproducts.

Oil Spills

An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially marine areas, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term is usually applied to marine oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters, but spills may also occur on land. Oil spills may be due to releases of crude oil from tankers, pipelines, railcars, offshore platforms, drilling rigs and wells, as well as spills of refined petroleum products (such as gasoline, diesel) and their by-products, heavier fuels used by large ships such as bunker fuel, or the spill of any oily refuse or waste oil. What is common in all of them is that the damage caused by them is permanent and takes a long time to clean up.

Waste Oil

Waste oil is used oil containing not only breakdown products but also impurities from use. Some examples of waste oil are used oils such as hydraulic oil, transmission oil, brake fluids, motor oil, crankcase oil, gear box oil and synthetic oil. Many of the same problems associated with natural petroleum exist with waste oil. When waste oil from vehicles drips out engines over streets and roads, the oil travels into the water table bringing with it such toxins as benzene. This poisons both soil and drinking water. Runoff from storms carries waste oil into rivers and oceans, poisoning them as well.

Acid Rain

High temperatures created by the combustion of petroleum cause nitrogen gas in the surrounding air to oxidize, creating nitrous oxides. Nitrous oxides, along with sulfur dioxide from the sulfur in the oil, combine with water in the atmosphere to create acid rain. Acid rain causes many problems such as dead trees and acidified lakes with dead fish. Coral reefs in the world's oceans are killed by acidic water caused by acid rain. Acid rain leads to increased corrosion of machinery and structures (large amounts of capital), and to the slow destruction of archaeological structures like the marble ruins in Rome and Greece.

At the end of the day there are many contributing factors to pollution, the above was a quick look into the most common ones.