By John Huxley (auth.)
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Extra resources for Britain’s Onshore Oil Industry
In its public relations material, made available to local residents, the oil company Conoco assesses the noise problem thus: 'In the immediate vicinity of the rig there is a background hum except when "making a trip". This occurs when the drilling bit at the end of the drill pipe has to be replaced. • 14 Residents near sites also complain of the 'squeal' from the brake-drum on rigs. On-site noise from 'nodding donkeys' is small. They are usually operated by a small, diesel motor, or in a highly sensitive area off a 15 horsepower electric motor that is virtually silent.
Pipelines may minimise road traffic, but may be difficult to lay through certain sensitive areas. Rail movement of crude may obviate the need for many road tanker trips, but a depot can be expensive and intrusive. A small, rigid wheelbase road tanker will carry 4000 gallons, or about 115 barrels, of oil, and an articulated tanker of present maximum dimensions 6500 gallons, about 185 barrels. Dorset County Council, required to decide on transport of production which has since grown and will grow further quotes British Gas's 'general rule' that pipelines are justified when output is more than 1,000 barrels a day, leaving road tankers to carry output below this rate.
6 The reality is very different, as the previous chapter went some way to describing. However, whatever the precautions insisted upon by local authorities and the Department of Energy, and willingly taken by environmentally-conscious drilling contractors and oilfield operators, the impact can only be minimised not entirely removed. It may be described, briefly, under a number of, overlapping, headings: visual intrusion, noise, effect on wildlife, problems arising from transportation, and risk of pollution.