– Exxon flares 9 billion cubic feet of gas
– EPA gave approval for flaring during intervals for 20 yrs
.A German Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) called Urgewald is of the firm opinion that grave environmental damage looms for Guyana as it pursues the exploitation of its oil and gas resources in the Stabroek Block.
In its most recent statement, the NGO was particularly concerned about recent revelations by the local media that ExxonMobil was still flaring offshore Guyana. Flaring is a process that entails burning associated, unwanted or excess gases. As a result of this, harmful gases are released into the atmosphere, thereby contributing directly to global warming.
When contacted yesterday, Head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr. Vincent Adams, confirmed that the company was found flaring nine billion cubic feet of gas as a result of issues with the gas compressor for the Liza Destiny FPSO. Dr. Adams said that this matter has been addressed while adding that it should come to an end this week.
In spite of Dr. Adams’ remarks, environmental activists remain concerned about the revelation. International Lawyer, Melinda Janki for example, told Urgewald if ExxonMobil cannot operate safely without flaring over two billion cubic feet of natural gas, then its operation in Guyana should be shut down immediately. Janki opined that flaring is utterly irresponsible, destructive and contrary to law. She also took a jab at the EPA, stating that its job is to protect the people and environment of Guyana, and not make excuses for ExxonMobil.
Urgewald’s Senior Advisor for Multilateral Financial Institutions, Heike Mainhardt, was also critical of ExxonMobil as well as the World Bank which is providing funding to Guyana to build its capacity for the oil sector. Thus far, part of the World Bank’s money has been going to ExxonMobil linked subcontractors with several transparency advocates sounding alarm bells over the issue. They have also called for the loan to be investigated for issues of conflict of interest.
In her brief comment, Mainhardt said, “Instead of paying for ExxonMobil’s law firm (to review Guyana’s laws)…, the World Bank should have supported the adoption of a No Gas Flaring Law to actually support best standards…”
During a taping of Kaieteur Radio’s programme, Guyana’s Oil and You in early January, Dr. Adams had revealed that ExxonMobil was flaring gas since December. He had said that this is allowed under the permit it received for the purposes of start up operations as well as for cases of emergency. At that time as well, Dr. Adams had said that the American oil giant was flaring longer than expected but noted that this was due to issues with the equipment that would allow for gas re-injection.
Apart from the issue of flaring, Urgewald is concerned that the development of the Stabroek Block which has found over eight billion barrels of oil equivalent resources, will turn Guyana from a carbon sink to a carbon bomb.
According to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that the EPA approved for Liza Phase One, flaring is permissible at various intervals until 2040.
In the document that Kaieteur News perused, ExxonMobil notes that flaring would actually be temporary and non-routine. In fact, its subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) intends to re-inject all operationally-produced gas under routine conditions, except that which will be utilized for FPSO operations (e.g., fuel gas).
It was further noted that a flare system will be provided for the collection and safe disposition of produced hydrocarbon gases resulting from unplanned, non-routine relief and blowdown events. The EIA states that relief events occur to prevent overpressure scenarios in the process equipment. It further clarifies that blowdown events occur to depressure the facilities in a controlled manner as a result of emergency shutdown events.
In addition, the EIA states that temporary, non-routine flaring will occur during equipment maintenance, process upsets, and start-up.
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