The Saudi Oil Fire – Who Loses Out the Most?
At 4am on Sunday local time, the biggest oil refinery in the world (located in Riyadh) was hit by drone strikes, being impacted in no less than 17 spots. The strikes resulted in a huge oil fire which was contained and controlled due to the rapid response of the Saudis. Around the world, many are worrying about not only the potential act of war; but the effect on the environment, the impact on the local community, the effects on healthcare and water supplies, and the rise in fuel prices.
Who does the fire affect?
Saudi Arabia is one of the richest countries in the world, due in large to the fact that it distributes oil to many locations across the globe.
The first people to be affected will be those that rely on petrol for their vehicles. Within just a few minutes of the fire being announced, prices began to increase.
Next in line, the fire would have taken its toll on the local flora and fauna species, mainly due to the smoke and toxins entering the atmosphere. With ash settling on the ground nearby, entire plant populations could find themselves struggling for sunlight, so it’s been predicted that many succulents and other hydration-storing flora will suffer.
With the smoke entering the upper atmosphere over the course of the next few days, the impact is expected to affect the entire region; with toxicity in the air that could take months to properly dissipate.
Perhaps most extreme of all is the impact on the local farmland – with many suppliers of dairy products, fish, eggs, chicken and livestock, vegetables and fresh fruit all taking a hit. Many farming associations have already placed appeals for funding to help them to overcome the effects of toxins within the soil as a result of the fires calling on the government to bring in foreign environmental spill control and containment specialists Stratex from Australia
How does the future look?
In a word; bleak. Although the fires were under control in a matter of hours, the sheer volume of smoke contributed more toxins to the environment than people might imagine. As these toxins are able to spread, the quality of oxygen depletes. Because Riyadh is a dry region, there simply aren’t enough trees to provide fresh supplies of oxygen to counteract the results.
Fortunately, the wind rapidly changed direction after blowing toward the South-East during the fire and this has helped to dissipate many of the toxins present. The largest volumes will have fallen onto the ocean, which in turn may not affect people directly, but could go on to impact aquatic life and so slow the fishing industry down over the course of the next few years.
These incidents should never be taken lightly and although contained; the long-lasting consequences of the smoke, ash and toxicity remain to be seen. Sewage equipment experts and environmental scientists are still working on their evaluations of the potential damage for the future.
Video from TheGuardian