Assessment of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf Environmental Studies Program: III - Social and Economic Studies
Most of the attention on Alaska's oil producing capabilities ahs been directed at the North Slope, which includes the massive oil facilities of Prudhoe Bay and Area 1002 of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). However, a great deal of oil is thought to lie under the Outer Continental Shelf off the North Slope, under the Chukchi, Beufort and Bering Seas. To date, year-round harsh weather, ice blockages, and long winter darkness have prevented any viable attempts to reach this oil, and it is thought that overcoming such obstacles would require activity that would present many environmental problem to the region and other nearby regions as well. These two books from the National Research Council arm of the National Academy of Sciences review the adequacy of information available for predicting and managing the environmental and human effects of oil and gas activities in this region. They examine how the Alaskan OCS and adjacent onshore natural and human environments differ from those in more temperate waters and to what degree the information characterizes those differences.
Spills of Nonfloating Oils: Risk and Response
From 1991 to 1996, nearly 17 percent of all oil transported over U.S. water has been heavy (non-floating) petroleum products such as fuel oil, coke, and asphalt. About 44 percent of this was transported by barge, and the remaining by tankers. Such products present significant risks to benthic organisms and water columns, and thus to entire food chains—risks that are long-term due to their non-floating nature which makes cleanup very difficult. This book from the National Research Council arm of the National Academy of Sciences discusses the technical and economic issues surrounding transport of such products, the environmental risks they present, and what can be done to prevent or mitigate damage from spills.
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) -Energy Division
For obvious reasons, the United Nations Environment Program has been concerned with the impacts of global oil and gas exploration, particularly in the Third World, and has been active in researching the impacts and related mitigation technologies. This is their site addressing such issues and their programs. This site provides extensive and readable information about the impacts of various marine oil exploration technologies, their past consequences and what can be done to prevent further damage. Topics covered include oil and gas exploration on the Russian shelf, marine pollution and the environmental impacts of Russian Shelf exploration, waste discharges, and interactions between offshore oil and gas exploration and the marine environment. Most of the site content is from Dr. Stanislav Patin, a Russian petroleum scientist and author of the book “Offshore Oil and Continental Shelf Ecology” which has been translated into English and is available at the site. Among other things, the site also provides valuable and hard to get information about the consequences of oil and gas exploration in the former Soviet Republics.