People have come a long way in terms of transportation, not only for aiding people’s travels, but also for moving materials too heavy or too toxic for a single person to handle.
Even then, no mode of transportation is flawless, and when too heavy and too toxic do not even begin to describe the material in need of transport — oil, decisions can quickly turn from the logistical to the moral.
Disregard the seemingly perpetual conflict tied with the oil industry, the most notable of which (for now) is the resource struggle in the Middle East, between ISIS and everyone else, and you still have a significant problem on your hands with oil transport.
Whether it is an oil pipeline in Syria or Missouri, running a tube over multiple territories proves to be a very risky move, yet pays off extremely well. In fact, about 58 percent of all oil deliveries made worldwide is by pipeline, and The Wall Street Journal says that it is indeed the quickest and cheapest way to move crude. On the subject of safety, however, leaky underground pipelines can severely damage terrestrial ecosystems, though those in water undeniably have had it worse.
Pipelines could drip no amount of crude; transportable tank trucks could spill no amount of diesel, which could cause an environmental catastrophe even remotely comparable to those that happened at sea.
With barges transporting the second largest share of oil (37 per cent) across the world’s waters, every trip does run the risk of killing entire populations of sea life within days, but it is a risk companies have to take in order to maximize utility from the oil fields they are finding increasingly difficult locate and secure.
Perfecting the way people transport oil may not come before humanity outgrows its dependency on the resource. For now, the best thing that industries can do is minimize the risk involved in their two most used modes of transport: pipelines and barges.