Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The petroleum umbrella

04.04.2005


Several companies are extracting black gold – petroleum - from the North Sea. But scientists are questioning this activity and asking if this activity has environmental consequences. By law, these companies are obliged to carry out annual analyses.



At the request of the companies, a number of researchers at the Science Faculty of the University of the Basque Country have analysed what type of contaminants are released as a result of extraction of crude oil in the North Sea and how these contaminants affect living things in this marine environment.

For this research, mussels were studied. Throughout the world, these invertebrates are often used for investigating the state of the coastline and, so, there is a lot of information on the effects generated by the contaminants. This is why, although these molluscs are not inhabitants of this marine environment, they are regularly used for analysing the environment health status at the open sea.


Network of cages

A number of cages are submerged at high sea and then are distributed around the oil platforms, normally in two opposite directions.

The first cages are positioned close to the platform, at some 500 metres for example; the next set are placed somewhat further away – at 1000 metres distance and, finally, the third group of cages are located at quite a distance – 10,000 metres from the platform.

After 4 to 6 weeks, analyses are carried out measuring biomarkers in the mussels. Biomarkers indicate the degree of response to environmental insult at cellular and molecular levels - early warning signals of the effects of pollution in the ocean.

Amongst other parameters, the mussels are analysed to determine whether they have accumulated metals or hydrocarbons, whether they are stressed, have the immune system weakened, have suffered damage in the reproductive system, abnormalities occur in subsequent generations, and so on. Nevertheless, the actual endponit of these studies is not to determine the health state of the mussels – these molluscs are used as sentinels of the situation of the marine ecosystem. Moreover, given the complexity of the ecosystem in the North Sea, herring and cod fish have also been used in the research.

Umbrella effect

According to the results obtained from the measurements, it is still too early to determine the effect of the platforms on the mussels. Nevertheless, the researchers have been able to demonstrate that those mussels installed close to the platforms are hardly affected and, in fact, the influence of the oil platform is more noticeable at a certain distance. This means that the pollutants discharged during the crude oil extraction are dispersed from deep waters in the form of an open and inverted umbrella.

But that is not all. Frequently, the cages installed on one side of the oil platform do not register the same effects than those on the other side, although they are located at the same distance from the rig. This might due to the fact that the currents displace the “umbrella” from the platform axis at the ocean bottom.

Anyway, the investigators say the research has to be confirmed in order to draw definitive conclusions. Above all, further parameters have to be taken into account and monitoring over a longer period of time has to be undertaken. Furthermore, the North Sea is not the easiest zone for this study given the fact that the high seas make the work of the scientists difficult.

Garazi Andonegi | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ehu.es
http://www.elhuyar.com

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>