Geoenvironmental analysis of oil extraction activities in urban and rural zones of Santa Elena Province, Ecuador
Free (open access)
Volume 6 (2021), Issue 3
211 - 228
Gricelda Herrera-Franco, Paulo Escandón-Panchana, Karla Erazo, Carlos Mora-Frank & Edgar Berrezueta
From an environmental viewpoint, oil wells can be considered a potential source of pollution when improperly managed. The Santa Elena province (Ecuador), located on the Pacific coast, currently has a residual crude oil extraction compared to production generated in the Amazon region of the country. However, this activity in the coastal zone is very near to urban and rural populations. Therefore, a detailed influence analysis of these wells on the environment is necessary. This work aims to analyse, from a geoenvironmental perspective, the oil wells impact located in a pilot zone (urban and rural) of the oil field studied and, complementarily, to describe their incidence on the community and territory. The methodological process includes (i) oil wells compilation and inventory within the study zone and selection of a pilot zone; (ii) contaminating factors identification generated by the wells infrastructure (mechanical and territorial) and their current state of activity (production or abandoned); (iii) environmental impacts analysis generated through the development of a cause-effect matrix and, finally, the evaluation of a method and results found through a focus group technique. The results reflect a negative impact on the land cover and vegetative-animal environment in the vicinity of the wells, caused by the continuous release of gases, metallic oxidation and bituminous exhumation. The overall impacts interpretation compiled indicates that comprehensive action is needed at the wells to control and minimise them. The implementation of new environmental strategies through zoning can help to achieve adequate land-use planning, thus combining the safe and sustainable use of the resource with the development of other community activities (urbanisation, tourism, industry, agriculture and fishing) and environmental protection.
extraction activities, geoenvironmental, land-use planning, oil wells, Santa Elena.