Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bacteria eating Natural Gases from Oil Spill

Studies show that deep sea bacteria completely devoured all the gases released from the Gulf oil spill. In USA Today people such as David Valentine of the University of California says that they "expected the methane to persist longer."

Future deep-sea oil spills "will at least partially be met with a micrbial fate," based on the findings study lead author John Kessler of Texas A&M University, by e-mail. Federal Scientists in November estimated that about 13% of the 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into the gulf from the 84-day-spill was consumed by microbes.
If these studies are true is it worth possibly having another Gulf oil spill? Is it worth endangering another ecosystem as well as other states that are dependent on Gulf of Mexico?

I think it is worth it, most of the world is dependent on gasoline and natural gases and drilling for oil in the Gulf is not something new to the ecosystem. I'm not saying that it wasn't an ecological disaster because it was, but there is no alternative fuel source that has been found yet that is not only cost effective and can replace gasoline completely. Therefore until we do find a such a fuel source, gasoline as a limited resource as it is has to be used. Unlike drilling in Alaska, the Gulf deals with seeps of oil and natural gases constantly, more so than any other place in the world. Ergo it would be safer to drill in the Gulf where mother nature is already prepared to deal with partially than disrupt an entire ecosystem such as Alaska. The bacteria acts a natural biofilter and they respond naturally to large-scale inputs of natural gas. So therefore the long term effects of the oil spill didn't persist as long as most have predicted.
With this new information, the dangers of drilling in places such as the Gulf of Mexico isn't held to such a high degree and will push people to drill in the sea which will overall help the economy. The United States will be able to export gasoline and oil from the country instead of relying solely on imports. This will increase the strength of the American dollar and therefore it will be beneficial to drill for oil instead and is worth the risk of another oil spill. The U.S. economy is already in a hole as it is, finding ways such as this to bring the economy back up is logical. While at the same time, it would be wise to find an alternative fuel source that is cost effective and efficient as it is only beneficial from here on out for the whole world.


kern said...

Very interesting view on the difference between drilling in Alaska and the Gulf. I never realized that the Gulf had so much natural gas and oil seeping into it.

Why have we not found an alternative fuel source? What are the limitations to accomplishing this discovery and why have we not invested more to make it happen?

Brad said...

What about popular opinion? Will the public be on board after the Gulf oil spill to setting up more drilling rigs in the Gulf? Will they care about the abundance of oil and natural gas or will their desire to protect the earth outweight the benefit of the drilling?

Garrett T. said...

To Kern, the reason why we have not discovered an alternative fuel source is because of many reasons such as converting the whole world to this fuel source, finding it due to lack of technology, the negatives outweigh the positives of a fuel source, and efficiency of said fuel sources. Those advertisements on say ethanol, it's an alternative fuel source, but its not as efficient therefore some people are still willing to pay say fifty dollars to refill their gas rather than convert to something not as costly and less efficient. I don't know the limitations to making this discovery because it's not discovered yet, I always thought somehow we'd be using hydrogen fuel cells to power cars, but then we'd be driving living bombs. Why there isn't more invested to finding an alternative fuel source is because there just aren't enough people that care to change to it. Out of so many years of study and what not, the only alternative fuel source that not many people are on board about are ethanol from corn, hydrogen, propane, biodiesel, and fossil fuels. They are not nearly as efficient as gasoline or last as long or they're just not worth converting to. They aren't popular enough to be easily found everywhere which is another negative that most people look at which would be a limitation I guess if we're just talking about the alternative fuel sources now.

Mr. Ostroff said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts, Garrett - thanks for your post! I hear you when you write that "no alternative fuel source that has been found yet that is cost effective and can replace gasoline."
Quick questions: could alternatives become more cost effective over time as global demand increases and we exhaust existing supply? Some would say rising prices would create necessary incentives for more entrepreneurs to enter the exploration and/or search for alt. energy? Would renewed drilling in the Gulf postpone the (inevitable?) changes in price that would make green energy a potentially profitable business?? (See also Tom Friedman arguing for an energy tax to stimulate this sort of entrepreneurship...)

Garrett T. said...

Thank you Mr. Ostroff for you thoughts and questions. I'm glad you dropped by to give your opinions and took time out of your busy day to read this. I'll try to answer these questions to the best of my ability here.
Honestly I do think that alternatives could be more cost effective if demands increase. There are a lot of factors that can increase this for example, the kind of alternative fuel source that we use such as man made resources or natural. If it's a man made resource then supplies will not be truly exhausted just lots of time and energy. Lets say for example it was a natural resource similar to gasoline but more efficient, easier to filter, produce, or what have you, and its in a much more abundance; it will be exhausted and prices will rise again. It all depends on the scarcity of such resources.
Rising prices may push the necessary incentives for entrepreneurs to search for an alternative fuel source, but due to technology as of right now, we can only cover and do so much as to find such a resource. We're sitting with biodiesel, ethanol, hydrogen, propane, and fossil fuels as of right now as alternatives. They're alternatives that no one really uses. If they were as efficient and cheap as gasoline, there would be more advertisements and more effort to convert to such fuels. Rising prices in gas may also encourage entrepreneurs to drill for crude oils and gasoline; they see it as an opportunity to make more money.
Renewed drilling in the Gulf is just delaying the inevitable, in the sense that gasoline prices will rise again. But it gives more time to concentrate on say finding an alternative fuel source and concentrating on green energy and how it can be improved to replace gasoline once resources have become even more scarce and harder to find.