Petroleum, Refineries, and the Future

Effects on Workers


    Some people who are in favor of keeping the oil refineries where they are would argue that there is also the costs of building new infrastructure and the efficiency of the systems in place to consider as well. The costs of infrastructure are partially analyzed by Matthew T. Huber in his book Lifeblood. Huber goes into detail, stating that “the postwar period witnessed tremendous growth of suburban areas around such Sunbelt cities.... This growth was driven... by the massive public investment of tax dollars that flowed into defense contracts and allowed for entire landscapes of employment base on military production” (Huber 63). Some concerns about moving the locations of where major oil refineries are located may be that people fear that there would not be enough workers who would be willing to travel to work there, but I would argue against that by giving the example of oil workers in North Dakota,some of which traveled across the country, in order to work on oil rigs. Additionally people may fear that there is not enough money to easily relocate oil refineries, but I believe that the massive amounts of money brought in from the oil industry will more than provide for the requirements set forth to create the necessary infrastructure to support more removed refineries.

Dangers to Workers:

With oil being a major factor in almost every facet of our everyday lives it is important to remember the history of the companies that delivers our products. It is often assumed that some of the larger companies and refineries tend to cut corners when it comes to production and the safety of workers, but few people tend to hold these thoughts in mind for long. Anthony Ince, a member of the department of human geography at Stockholm University in Stockholm, Sweden, writes about some of the struggles that blue collared oil workers have faced in Britain, stating “there were fears among the strikers, which proved to be well founded, that the employers were paying below the nationally agreed wage levels by a range of measures, including eliminating paid breaks and preparation times” (Ince 140). In this scenario, the owners of oil refineries were looking to cut corners by directly reducing the pay and safety to their workers, and there was an outcry that caused strikes among the British workers. When the news of the strikes reached national attention, Ince states that “the unions, however, maintained that the strike concerned  the violation of national agreements, discrimination against British workers, and a concerted assault on long-established employment practices in this sector” (Ince 140). Eventually things settled out, and improvements were made, but across the world there were other dangers.

Works Cited:

Huber, Matthew T. “Lifeblood: Oil, Freedom, and the Forces of Capital” Quadrant, 2013.


Ince, Anthony, et al. "British Jobs for British Workers? Negotiating Work, Nation, and Globalisation through the Lindsey Oil Refinery Disputes." Antipode, vol. 47, no. 1, Jan. 2015, pp. 139-157. Academic Search Premier.


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