Reflection Pills

Credit: Il foglio

To date, I tell you the truth, although I am studying in a faculty also concerning anthropogenic effects on the planet, I have never been interested in quantifying the impact. Let me explain better, to date I have never been interested, for example, in how many platforms perforate our seas and our land. Well, until today.

From this quantification it turns out that on our planet there are a total of 1124 platforms, suitable for the extraction of gas and oil both on land and in the ocean. The area that currently has the highest number of platforms on earth is the Middle East, while at sea the primacy is of Asia Pacific.

Credit: Statista

We are talking about a sector that employs billions of people, and which includes various processing phases starting from simple research and extraction, up to refining. After this process, oil and its derivatives will be used in various production chains.

And it is interesting to note that something that seems very distant to us, actually concerns our life completely.

Yet sometimes the right to choose was given to us, but we did not take it.

In fact, in Italy, in 2016, there was a referendum to propose the abrogation of the law (2006) which extended the duration of concessions to extract hydrocarbons at sea until the contents of the deposits were exhausted. The referendum in this case did not produce effects, since only 31.19% of the voters in Italy and abroad voted and therefore the quorum was not reached and the rule was not repealed.

But what are hydrocarbons and where are they found?

Hydrocarbons are called BITUMINOUS SEDIMENTS: they are of organic origin (10-100 million years) due to the reduction of the remains of phytoplanktonic organisms (e.g. microalgae) or animal organisms, especially fat. The fluids that originate have the ability to migrate vertically into porous sediments forming hydrocarbon deposits. These sediments are the most important source rocks of liquid hydrocarbons (petroleum) and gaseous. These are deposits generally associated with pelites and with clay sediments deposited in lake or marine basins, in conditions of poor circulation and stratification of the water masses, with stagnation and poor oxygenation at the bottom.

Sedimentary rocks contain almost all of the hydrocarbon deposits, all those of coal and other important deposits of metallic and non-metallic minerals.

More facies are needed to generate hydrocarbons, so we will find:

• presence of a mother rock (in which hydrocarbons are formed under specific pressure and temperature conditions);

• presence of a reservoir rock (sand where the liquids which percolate from the mother rock migrate);

• presence of a covering rock (cap formed of impermeable rocks such as clay) to avoid evaporation.

For this, for the extraction it is necessary to make a long hole in the subsoil that puts the platform in direct communication with the layers in which the hydrocarbons are deposited. Initially the hydrocarbons will rise driven by the pressure at which they are found in the subsoil and also driven by the methane gas present in the reservoir.

We know well that in addition to piercing the planet here and there, the combustion of hydrocarbons is capable of producing toxic substances, for the entire biosphere, which are not of minor interest.

What is considered “THE OIL AGE” will last for several decades, due to the continuous invention of new technologies. But this is not an inexhaustible resource, and as I was told in elementary school, there are renewable and non-renewable resources. Hydrocarbons are part of non-renewable resources, and when they end we will find ourselves dealing with ourselves and, as always, nature will lead us to new habits.

Are we sure we are going once again in the right direction?

When I think of this millennium I think of “the millennium of free will”. It is true that we have been equipped with this beautiful tool: the ability to choose freely. But can we really talk about freedom when we are, in reality, limiting it to our successors? Can we really be free if the market, the world economy, and above all our choices must be based on the price of a barrel of oil?!

Maria Bruno

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