ExxonMobil has been flaring natural gas from the Liza-1 well much longer than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expected it to. This was revealed by Executive Director of the EPA, Dr. Vincent Adams, during a Kaieteur Radio interview on the show Guyana’s Oil & You.
The official said it has come to accept the necessity of flaring the natural gas, as it is needed to test the newly acquired equipment that is to be used for oil production during the Liza-1 project development.
This comes despite a previous declaration that Government would not permit flaring. It has since learnt a bit more about the technicalities of oil production.
Dr. Adams said that flaring is done in cases of emergencies or when certain unexpected developments occur, or to test equipment on the new natural gas.
The mechanism for the testing the equipment, Dr. Adams said, is written into the permit Guyana has granted to ExxonMobil’s subisidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), and its partners for their operations on the Stabroek Block.
The equipment is necessary to ensure some of the gas is re-injected into the well. This ensures that the pressure in the well is high enough for as much oil to be extracted as is needed.
Dr. Adams revealed that if it is so necessary for those companies to flare, they are expected to report it.
There appeared to be a misunderstanding, however, between Government and the operator on the length of time that the startup flaring would take.
And Dr. Adams said that as soon as the matter was reported to Government, the EPA in conjunction with the Department of Energy, met with EEPGL so that it would explain why the extended period of flaring is necessary.
That meeting may have been about three weeks ago. Yet, the public was not notified. Dr. Adams told Kaieteur Radio that there were two meetings. And during those meetings, the Government eventually came to understand that the shorter period it expected for the flaring process was not enough.
It is also necessary for the testing to be done, so that any concern about safety is alleviated, Dr. Adams said. Otherwise, the equipment runs the risk of operating deficiently.
Furthermore, Dr. Adams explained that the extended period of flaring and testing would minimise the time it would take to flare in the future.
Going forward, the EPA he said, will work to ensure that the time needed to flare the natural gas is kept to a minimum.
He said, “We’re not going to eliminate flaring for startup obviously.” The EPA Director noted nonetheless that the agency will “think about where we could cut some time off of the flaring exercise…”
So far, the EPA’s preliminary assessment does not indicate that there will be any additional and/or adverse impacts on the environment, due to the extended flaring. However, the EPA is still paying keen attention.
Dr. Adams assured that despite there being an absence of environmental laws to govern the management of the effect of these operations; the EPA is adopting and working with international best practices.
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