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Environmental Impacts of Oil Fields

  • By: Maia Gachechiladze
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Development of oil fields—sites containing oil and gas reserves—may cause various changes to the natural and human environment of large geographic areas. The environmental impacts arise during the offshore or onshore oil field operation phases, which are exploration, development, production, and transportation. Environmental impacts may be direct if caused by the actual oil field operations, for example, water contamination by drilling wastes, or indirect if they result from other activities arising from oil field developments, for example, job-related migration. An overview of basic direct environmental impacts of oil field operations is essential to understand the nature, scope, and gravity of their influence on both biophysical and sociocultural environments.

Oil field development starts with broadscale geological and geophysical surveys to identify exploration targets. Offshore exploration usually consists ...

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