Concept: Oil platform
Acute catastrophic events can cause significant damage to marine environments in a short time period and may have devastating long-term impacts. In April 2010 the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon (DWH) offshore oil rig exploded, releasing an estimated 760 million liters of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. This study examines the potential effects of oil spill exposure on coral larvae of the Florida Keys. Larvae of the brooding coral, Porites astreoides, and the broadcast spawning coral, Montastraea faveolata, were exposed to multiple concentrations of BP Horizon source oil (crude, weathered and WAF), oil in combination with the dispersant Corexit® 9500 (CEWAF), and dispersant alone, and analyzed for behavior, settlement, and survival. Settlement and survival of P. astreoides and M. faveolata larvae decreased with increasing concentrations of WAF, CEWAF and Corexit® 9500, however the degree of the response varied by species and solution. P. astreoides larvae experienced decreased settlement and survival following exposure to 0.62 ppm source oil, while M. faveolata larvae were negatively impacted by 0.65, 1.34 and 1.5 ppm, suggesting that P. astreoides larvae may be more tolerant to WAF exposure than M. faveolata larvae. Exposure to medium and high concentrations of CEWAF (4.28/18.56 and 30.99/35.76 ppm) and dispersant Corexit® 9500 (50 and 100 ppm), significantly decreased larval settlement and survival for both species. Furthermore, exposure to Corexit® 9500 resulted in settlement failure and complete larval mortality after exposure to 50 and 100 ppm for M. faveolata and 100 ppm for P. astreoides. These results indicate that exposure of coral larvae to oil spill related contaminants, particularly the dispersant Corexit® 9500, has the potential to negatively impact coral settlement and survival, thereby affecting the resilience and recovery of coral reefs following exposure to oil and dispersants.
Ice formation and accumulation on surfaces can result in severe problems for solar photovoltaic installations, offshore oil platforms, wind turbines and aircrafts. In addition, blockage of pipelines by formation and accumulation of clathrate hydrates of natural gases has safety and economical concerns in oil and gas operations, particularly at high pressures and low temperatures such as those found in subsea or arctic environments. Practical adoption of icephobic/hydrate-phobic surfaces requires mechanical robustness and stability under harsh environments. Here, we develop durable and mechanically robust bilayer poly-divinylbenzene (pDVB)/poly-perfluorodecylacrylate (pPFDA) coatings using initiated chemical vapor deposition (iCVD) to reduce the adhesion strength of ice/hydrates to underlying substrates (silicon and steel). Utilizing a highly-cross-linked polymer (pDVB) underneath a very thin veneer of fluorine-rich polymer (pPFDA) we have designed inherently rough bilayer polymer films that can be deposited on rough steel substrates resulting in surfaces which exhibit a receding water contact angle (WCA) higher than 150° and WCA hysteresis as low as 4°. Optical profilometer measurements were performed on the films and root mean square (RMS) roughness values of Rq = 178.0 ± 17.5 nm and Rq = 312.7 ± 23.5 nm were obtained on silicon and steel substrates, respectively. When steel surfaces are coated with these smooth hard iCVD bilayer polymer films, the strength of ice adhesion is reduced from 1010 ± 95 kPa to 180 ± 85 kPa. The adhesion strength of the cyclopentane (CyC5) hydrate is also reduced from 220 ± 45 kPa on rough steel substrates to 34 ± 12 kPa on the polymer-coated steel substrates. The durability of these bilayer polymer coated icephobic and hydrate-phobic substrates is confirmed by sand erosion tests and examination of multiple ice/hydrate adhesion/de-adhesion cycles.
Sequencing environmental DNA (eDNA) is increasingly being used as an alternative to traditional morphological-based identification to characterize biological assemblages and monitor anthropogenic impacts in marine environments. Most studies only assess eDNA which, compared to eRNA, can persist longer in the environment after cell death. Therefore, eRNA may provide a more immediate census of the environment due to its relatively weaker stability, leading some researchers to advocate for the use of eRNA as an additional, or perhaps superior proxy for portraying ecological changes. A variety of pre-treatment techniques for screening eDNA and eRNA derived operational taxonomic units (OTUs) have been employed prior to statistical analyses, including removing singleton taxa (i.e., OTUs found only once) and discarding those not present in both eDNA and eRNA datasets. In this study, we used bacterial (16S ribosomal RNA gene) and eukaryotic (18S ribosomal RNA gene) eDNA- and eRNA-derived data from benthic communities collected at increasing distances along a transect from an oil production platform (Taranaki, New Zealand). Macro-infauna (visual classification of benthic invertebrates) and physico-chemical data were analyzed in parallel. We tested the effect of removing singleton taxa, and removing taxa not present in the eDNA and eRNA libraries from the same environmental sample (trimmed by shared OTUs), by comparing the impact of the oil production platform on alpha- and beta-diversity of the eDNA/eRNA-based biological assemblages, and by correlating these to the morphologically identified macro-faunal communities and the physico-chemical data. When trimmed by singletons, presence/absence information from eRNA data represented the best proxy to detect changes on species diversity for both bacteria and eukaryotes. However, assessment of quantitative beta-diversity from read abundance information of bacteria eRNA did not, contrary to eDNA, reveal any impact from the oil production activity. Overall, the data appeared more robust when trimmed by shared OTUs, showing a greater effect of the platform on alpha- and beta-diversity. Trimming by shared OTUs likely removes taxa derived from legacy DNA and technical artefacts introduced through reverse transcriptase, polymerase-chain-reaction and sequencing. Findings from our scoping study suggest that metabarcoding-based biomonitoring surveys should, if funds, time and expertise allow, be assessed using both eDNA and eRNA products.
Offshore platforms are known to act as artificial reefs, though there is on-going debate on whether this effect is beneficial or harmful for the life in the surrounding marine environment. Knowing what species exist on and around the offshore platforms and what environmental variables influence this species assemblage is crucial for a better understanding of the impact of offshore platforms on marine life. Information on this is limited for offshore platforms in the southern North Sea. This study aims to fill this gap in our knowledge and to determine how the composition and the abundance of species assemblages changes with depth and along a distance-from-shore gradient. The species assemblages on five offshore gas platforms in the southern North Sea have been inventoried using Remotely Operated Vehicles inspection footage. A total of 30 taxa were identified. A Generalised Additive Model of the species richness showed a significant non-linear relation with water depth (p = 0.001): from a low richness in shallow waters it increases with depth until 15-20 m, after which richness decreases again. Using PERMANOVA, water depth (p≤0.001), community age (p≤0.001) and the interaction between distance from shore and community age (p≤0.001) showed a significant effect on the species assemblages. Future research should focus on the effect additional environmental variables have on the species assemblages.
The objectives were to assess the association between psychosocial stress at work and alcohol consumption patterns in offshore oil workers. This was a cross-sectional study of 210 workers on offshore oil rigs in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from July to September 2014. The data collection instrument was a self-completed multidimensional questionnaire. Exposure to stress was measured by the demand-control model and alcohol consumption pattern was measured with the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Statistical analyses were based on the multivariate logistic regression model. Participants' mean age was 32.9 years (SD ± 8.1 years). Most were married (62.9%) and reported having a religion (84.5%); 15.2% reported abusive levels of alcohol consumption, 20.3% had finished university, and 56.6% had fewer than 5 years of offshore experience. All the participants were subject to 12-hour daily shifts for 15 days followed by 15 days off, and 62.4% worked on fixed shifts. The multivariate analyses showed that workers exposed to workplace stress (OR = 3.30; 95%CI: 1.18-9.27) had higher odds of alcohol abuse when compared to unexposed workers. The results help elucidate what is still a controversial issue in the literature, i.e., the relationship between psychosocial stress and alcohol consumption, and point to the need for further studies.
The use of rigorous methodologies to assess environmental, social and health impacts of specific interventions is crucial to disentangle the various components of environmental questions and to inform public opinion. The power of systematic maps relies on the capacity to summarise and organise the areas or relationships most studied, and to highlight key gaps in the evidence base. The recent Italian technical referendum (2016) - a public consultation inviting people to express their opinion by voting to change the rules on the length of licence duration and the decommissioning of offshore oil and gas platform drilling licences - inspired the creation of a systematic map of evidence to scope and quantify the effects of off-shore extraction platforms on Mediterranean marine ecosystems. The map was aimed as a useful model to standardise a “minimal informational threshold”, which can inform public opinion at the beginning of any public consultation. Produced by synthesising scientific information, the map represents a reliable layer for any future sustainable strategy in the Mediterranean basin by: (i) providing a summary of the effects of marine gas and oil platforms on the Mediterranean marine ecosystem, (ii) describing the best known affected components on which the biggest monitoring efforts have been focused, and (iii) strengthening the science-policy nexus by offering a credible, salient and legitimate knowledge baseline to both public opinion and decision-makers. The map exercise highlights the knowledge gaps that need filling and taking into due consideration before future transnational and cross-border monitoring and management plans and activities can be addressed.
At present, environmental impacts from offshore oil and gas activities are partly determined by measuring changes in macrofauna diversity. Morphological identification of macrofauna is time-consuming, expensive and dependent on taxonomic expertise. In this study, we evaluated the applicability of using foraminiferal-specific metabarcoding for routine monitoring. Sediment samples were collected along distance gradients from two oil platforms off Taranaki (New Zealand) and their physico-chemical properties, foraminiferal environmental DNA/RNA, and macrofaunal composition analyzed. Macrofaunal and foraminiferal assemblages showed similar shifts along impact gradients, but responded differently to environmental perturbations. Macrofauna were affected by hypoxia, whereas sediment grain size appeared to drive shifts in foraminifera. We identified eight foraminiferal molecular operational taxonomic units that have potential to be used as bioindicator taxa. Our results show that metabarcoding represents an effective tool for assessing foraminiferal communities near offshore oil and gas platforms, and that it can be used to complement current monitoring techniques.
As global exploitation of available resources increases, operations extend towards sensitive and previously protected ecosystems. It is important to monitor such areas in order to detect, understand and remediate environmental responses to stressors. The natural heterogeneity and complexity of communities means that accurate monitoring requires high resolution, both temporally and spatially, as well as more complete assessments of taxa. Increased resolution and taxonomic coverage is economically challenging using current microscopy-based monitoring practices. Alternatively, DNA sequencing-based methods have been suggested for cost-efficient monitoring, offering additional insights into ecosystem function and disturbance. Here we applied DNA metabarcoding of eukaryotic communities in marine sediments, in areas of offshore drilling on the Norwegian continental shelf. Forty-five samples, collected from seven drilling sites in the Troll/Oseberg region, were assessed, using the small subunit ribosomal RNA gene as a taxonomic marker. In agreement with results based on classical morphology-based monitoring, we were able to identify changes in sediment communities surrounding oil platforms. In addition to overall changes in community structure, we identified several potential indicator taxa, responding to pollutants associated with drilling fluids. These included the metazoan orders Macrodasyida, Macrostomida and Ceriantharia, as well as several ciliates and other protist taxa, typically not targeted by environmental monitoring programs. Analysis of a co-occurrence network to study the distribution of taxa across samples, provided a framework for better understanding the impact of anthropogenic activities on the benthic food web, generating novel, testable hypotheses of trophic interactions structuring benthic communities. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
It is proposed a method for the determination of (226)Ra in offshore platform liquid effluent samples (produced water). The method is based on a two-phase liquid scintillation counting system and allows for the direct and simple determination of (226)Ra content. Samples with high barium content may also have high (226)Ra concentration. Therefore, the sample volume is based on the barium concentration and ranges from 10 mL to 100 mL. Our new method was tested using multiple real samples and was compared with the BaSO4 precipitation method. The results based on the LSC were 30% higher than the precipitation method, which is attributed to the self-absorption of alpha particles in the BaSO4 precipitate. The determination of both (226)Ra and (228)Ra in the liquid effluent of offshore oil platforms is mandatory in Brazil. Thus, a second method of accurately assessing (228)Ra content remains necessary.
Extended functional impairment characterized by sick leave and disability after a single disaster has not been documented before. This prospective, longitudinal, case-control study applied growth mixture modeling to predict trajectories of functional impairment in oil rig workers, survivors (n = 68) and a matched comparison group (n = 84), over 27 years after the 1980 North Sea oil rig disaster. In the initial 12 years post-disaster, survivors displayed higher rates of functional impairment than the comparison group. A minor group of survivors (n = 8, 11.8%) demonstrated persistent functional impairment from the start and remained unable to work during the subsequent three decades. Long-term sick leave and disability were related to perceived peritraumatic death threat and a propensity towards social withdrawal. Most survivors (n = 60) revealed no major functional impairment. The study indicates that functional impairment should be counteracted in the early support after a single disaster.