Offshore pollution paradox


  • Randy Showstack


A new discovery by a team of scientists at the University of California at Santa Barbara could provide offshore gas and oil production with a cleaner image. The scientists have found that gas and oil flowing from natural vents in the ocean floor off campus contribute significantly to air pollution. In addition, theyfound that offshore drilling actually can decrease that pollution.

“The amount of gas seepage is about equal to the amounts estimated for tailpipe emissions by government agencies in Santa Barbara County,” says geophysics professor and chief investigator Bruce Luyendyk. The 2-year study, which focused on gas production, found that 3.5 million to 7 million cubic feet of natural gas are released from the nearby ocean floor every day. This makes the study area the world's second biggest region—after the Caspian Sea—where such seepage has been found.