What’s the environmental impact of drilling (oil/natural gas/etc.)?

Obviously strip mining has an incredible impact on the environment, as do other methods of gathering resource. I'm completely ignorant of how drilling works. Is it not relatively consolidated to a few access points to retrieve "pockets" of resource below? I guess I liken it to drilling for my well. The environmental impact is negligible.

I'm assuming the real impact is in the storage/delivery/processing infrastructure that will surround the process? Looking at oil rigs in the ocean, it seems that can be pretty consolidated.

3 Responses to “What’s the environmental impact of drilling (oil/natural gas/etc.)?”

  1. Cordi Boy Says:

    No big impact to the environment I think.

  2. Elizabeth H Says:

    Arctic Refuge Damaged

    Despite enormous strides by the oil industry and regulatory agencies in minimizing environmental effects, the consequences of development have been mounting over the years, according to the report, which was conducted by the National Academies' National Research Council at the request of Congress.

    Noise from seismic exploration has displaced migrations of bowhead whales and forced subsistence hunters farther out to sea to capture them, the report said.

    In addition, the report found that the massive network of roads constructed to support the industry has harmed the tundra, caused flooding and altered animal habitat and behavior.

    The report also noted that as companies have switched to three-dimensional survey methods, the off-road seismic vehicles used for oil exploration require a greater density of trails. The new technique creates greater erosion, water flow and damage to vegetation, the report found.

    "[B]ecause the seismic trails are readily visible, especially from the air, they affront the residents and degrade the visual experience of the landscape," the report states.

    Because birds fly in from outlying areas and repopulate the species, the panel found that if development spreads outward, the threat to the species could grow.

    "You may reach a point where you get very significant demographic effects popping up," said Orians, professor emeritus of zoology at the University of Washington.

    The authors also looked at the question of how climate change might influence the effect that drilling has on the region. If the climate changes, which have been "unusually rapid" in the North Slope in recent decades, continue as projected, current oil-field technologies — such as the reliance on ice roads — may no longer be useful, the report said.

  3. Turbidite Says:

    Drilling wastes includes hydrocarbons, brines, and heavy metals. Other chemicals are also added and include barium in the muds, acids for fracking (real drilling word), and solvents to clean the rigs. On land rigs use pits, some of them unlined to store these chemicals.

    Good source for drilling is on OSHA's website: