Debating the unknowns of marine oil exploration in Mexico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Marine extraction accounts for one third of the world's hydrocarbon production. Several analyses suggest that seismic surveys employed in oil exploration harm marine life; however, their long-term impacts have not been extensively studied. We examine debates between fishers, the oil industry, and governmental authorities over the effects of oil explorations in Tabasco, Mexico. The study employs ideas from historical ontology in tracing the contested production of truth-claims about exploration in the context of scientific uncertainty. It shows how actors, through their different engagements with the sea, and with different degrees of power, frame claims about the relations between exploration and fish. We argue that fishers, through their efforts to "think like fish" produce situated knowledges about the effects of oil exploration. They explain a disappearance of fish by their understanding that seismic surveys disturb fish migration, impair the hearing of fish and cause fish death. Oil company and governmental representatives frame the impacts of oil exploration as insignificant by separating environmental and social dimensions, by isolating individual exploration events, and by arguing that possible effects are transitional. Due to scientific indeterminacy, oil exploration is malleable in the hands of powerful political representations that understate its possible impacts on marine socio-environments.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Extractive Industries and Society
Volume6
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)855-862
Number of pages8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 5203 Development Studies
  • Fisher
  • Historical ontology
  • Mexico
  • Oil exploration
  • Oil industry
  • Uncertainty
  • NOISE
  • DISPLACEMENT
  • EQUATORIAL
  • INDUSTRY
  • FISHERS
  • SPACE

Projects

Water and vulnerability in fragile societies

Nygren, A., Lounela, A., Käkönen, M., Kummu, M. & Horton, A.

01/03/201827/12/2022

Project: Research project

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