My interest in this segment of the project stemmed from my own personal experiences of having lived and worked in the cities of Dubai and Los Angeles, where crude oil and natural gas are continually in production. From refrigerators, clothes, shaving cream, deodorant, to detergents, gasoline, stove burners, soap, faucet washers and toothbrushes, there’s not been a day in my life that has gone without the practical use of these products that originate from crude oil.
Freshwater plays an important role in the extraction, transportation and production of oil. Large-scale extraction processes such as fracking and steam flooding, utilize millions of gallons of water per day along with a mix of chemicals, to fracture rocks and alter the viscosity of the liquid for faster and more productive yields. Above the oil fields, fresh water is used to help power the oil plants and refineries while providing electricity at a cost to local residents. The residents in turn subsidize the oil companies’ production processes through their usage of electricity, oil and natural gas.
Since the 1980s, the oil companies in Kern County, California have used up a ratio of roughly four and a half barrels of water for every barrel of oil that they produced. By 2008, this ratio had increased to nearly eight barrels of water for every barrel of oil produced. In a region where public transportation is often seen as novelty, Los Angeles is one example of a car-crazy culture that utilizes 6 million barrels of gasoline per day; and it does not look like this consumption will decrease any time soon.
With the population across the Golden State continuing to rise through natural, legal and illegal means, the need for more personal and industry transportation vehicles will continue to grow. The demand for freshwater in other areas of personal and industrial use, may leave the people facing a conundrum in terms of which natural resource they will eventually value more – water or oil?