Energy for the Future

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Energy For The Future

John Hosking

We live in a world where technology has outgrown us, and where we have outgrown our world. Beyond our dependence on the earth’s resources for simple necessities we have grown dependent on it for energy. Since we developed our need for energy the quest to find it has been perpetual. Over the last 200 years that need has been mainly supplied by fossil fuels, predominately coal. Recently, interest in the development for more sustainable energy options has surfaced. Options such as hydro power, wind power, nuclear power, and geothermal power have all been developed and put into active production. However we as a society continue to depend upon oil to survive, and the development of the industry will only help us. The investment in offshore oil drilling coupled with new technology and stricter regulations will alleviate environmental woes while the industry itself will continue to help our economy prosper. Many different stakeholders from first nations to environmentalists to politicians criticize the legitimacy of this industry in a changing world. This paper will discuss many issues regarding the practicality of offshore oil while also addressing the environmental and economical affects the industry has. It is important to recognize the economical impact the oil industry has on both the Canadian community and the global community. The offshore oil industry coupled with oil being produced in the Alberta Oil Sands is the most consumed energy in Canada. Oil accounts for approximately 32% of all energy resource use in Canada; very similar to the 32% found worldwide (Figure 1). Over the last three decades there has been a 20% increase in energy consumption; as our economy and country has grown so has the emphasis of the importance for Canada to be a local producer of oil . This unwavering trend of increased energy consumption has been noted around the world, emphasizing the importance of the oil industry both domestically and internationally.

Offshore oil drilling is a high volatility industry; there can be big payoffs and dire consequences. With the economic rewards come environmental woes. These woes have stemmed the growth of the oil industry significantly in the past couple years. The oil industry has realized this and has made the sustainability and environmental precautions a paramount in the industry. New drilling techniques, namely horizontal and directional drilling limit the number of wells needed to access the resource. These new techniques are very significant as they both increase a well’s lifespan, thus increasing its economic output, while also limiting the number of wells necessary. This limits the environmental impact of offshore oil development. These new precautions have shown results, with zero spills occurring in the Canadian oil fields off the east coast of Canada. Improvements in drilling techniques are not the only advances. New technologies such as ROV’s (robotically operated vehicles) have been introduced and are used on all oil rigs. These vehicles both aid in the construction of a well and the maintaining of one. Cracks and Leaks are easily detected and quickly sealed, leading to minimal effect on the environment even in the rare event of a spill. With this, the construction and development of wells is slower, leaving more time for inspection and to ensure that the overall strength of the well is satisfactory. To maintain these facilities a large investment into more well trained staff has been necessary, making the industry much more sustainable and environmentally safe. It is important to note the location this abundant resource is in our country. Canada is one of the worlds largest producers of oil, a large portion coming from the Alberta Oil Sands while another portion coming from oil fields submerged in the waters surrounding our country. To the east, in the Atlantic waters roughly 300 kilometers east of Newfoundland and Labrador, lies the...
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