Should an oil spill occur in the Payara field of the Stabroek Block, it is likely to have a significant impact on Region One. This is according to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that was done on the project by Environmental Resources Management (ERM), a consultancy firm that is based in the United Kingdom.
The EIA, which was perused by Kaieteur News, states that if spilled oil reaches the coast in Region One. The risks of oiling nesting beaches could pose inter-generational risks to marine turtles. It also states that other physical and biological resources such as air quality, seabirds, marine fish, and marine benthos could also be impacted.
Elaborating further, the ERM stated in the report that an unmitigated oil spill could potentially impact Guyanese fisher folk. It noted however, that the magnitude of this impact would depend on the volume and duration of the release as well as the time of year at which the release were to occur (e.g., whether a spill would coincide with the time of year when these species are more abundant in the Project Development Area).
In light of the sensitivity of many of the resources that could be potentially impacted by a spill such as Shell Beach Protected Area, marine mammals, critically endangered marine turtles, coastal Guyanese and Amerindian communities reliant on ecosystem services for sustenance and their livelihood, the EIA stressed that preparation for spill response is warranted.
In this regard, it was noted that ExxonMobil’s subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) will implement from time to time, regular oil spill response drills, simulations, and exercises. Kaieteur News also understands that EEPGL will involve appropriate Guyanese authorities and stakeholders in these activities and document the availability of appropriate response equipment on board the FPSO as well as offsite equipment required to be mobilized for a timely response.
PAYARA PROJECT OVERVIEW
According to documents in the possession of the Environmental Protection Agency, EEPGL’s Payara development will be located in the eastern area of the Stabroek Block which is approximately 190 km (118 miles) from Georgetown.
The operator notes that oil production from Payara is expected to last at least 20 years with startup of the facilities expected to occur approximately in mid-2023.
EEPGL noted that it will drill approximately 35 to 45 wells offshore to support extraction of the oil from below the sea floor. It said that each well will be drilled using a floating drill ship. Also, each well will be directionally drilled to specific reservoir targets generally 4,000 to 5,500 meters (m) below the sea level.
Further to this, EEPGL said it will install some of the oil production facilities on the sea floor at approximately 1,500-1,980 m (4,900-6,500 ft.) water depth. It said that these subsea facilities include various types of pipes and hardware.
Kaieteur News understands that the subsea facilities allow the oil from the wells to be gathered and moved to the surface of the ocean for further processing. EEPGL will then install other oil production facilities on a vessel which floats on the surface of the ocean. The vessel is called a Floating Production, Storage, and Offloading (FPSO). It will be moored on location in approximately 1,800-1,980 m (5,900-6,500 ft.) of water depth and will remain on location throughout the life of the facility. EEPGL said that oil production facilities on the FPSO will further process the oil extracted from below the sea floor.
The operator also stated that the FPSO will have the capacity to produce up to approximately 180,000 to 220,000 barrels of oil per day. During the early stage of production operations, the FPSO is anticipated to produce up to an average of approximately 5,700,000 to 6,600,000 barrels of crude oil per month. These estimates are preliminary and are subject to change.
Further to this, it was noted that the Project is expected to employ up to 600 persons during development well drilling, approximately 600 persons at the peak of the installation stage, and up to about 140 persons during production operations.
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