Interview with Denis Mackenzie
What Could the Landscape Look Like After the Saudi Oil Fire?
After the recent Saudi Arabian oil fire – an event affecting the largest oil refinery in the world – it’s understandable that many people in and around the region are concerned.
From the increase to fuel costs, through to the lasting effect on the environment; just how big a toll are experts predicting this fire to take and how drastic will the consequences be?
What you need to know
Being attacked by drones and with an investigation still ongoing, people are becoming increasingly concerned with how the fire may affect the landscape of the region, as well as how fuel price rises may be imminent.
With fire having burnt through a minimal amount of land thanks to the rapid action of the Saudis having quelled the spread within a matter of hours – the environment may seem to boast nothing more than a few new scars.
The harsh reality is that thousands of tons of chemical gas were released into the atmosphere as a result of the fumes and experts are still attempting to calculate just how many toxins may now be entering the earth’s upper atmosphere requiring a huge spill management and containment strategy.
Locally, the smoke, tar and ash left behind in the fire’s wake has already taken a toll on the fauna and flora. With 17 direct hits in the region from drone strikes, the immediate area isn’t expected to recover for at least 15 years – and this is at the lower end of the estimate.
The further environment
The wind was blowing in a South-Eastern direction; spreading from Riyadh to Abqaiq, and then on for miles across the Gulf and to the shores on the other side of the ocean. Although nowhere near as toxic as the effect on the immediate area, the ash that fell into the ocean has been expected to take a negative toll on aquatic life and smoke drifting across the land is anticipated to poison a number of susceptible flora species.
The cost of fuel
Boasting the world’s largest oil refinery, Riyadh has had no choice but to limit supplies as they work on repairs. As a result, many regions throughout the world including Europe, parts of Asia and even further afield have seen an instant increase to oil prices. Other parts of the globe, such as the United States, have their own oil stash buried deep below ground; seemingly to avoid events such as this one.
Those that the U.S. supplies should remain in good stock for their fuel requirements, but the rest of the world is certainly reeling from this man-made disaster. How long it will take to re-accumulate the incredible volumes of oil remains to be seen, but what is for certain is that due to the size of the fire, the surrounding regions may well see a shift in their climate with fewer flora and fauna species and farmland being impacted.