– Int’l Law Firm
By Kiana Wilburg
Pull quote: CIEL said that the carbon dioxide emissions from that flaring are approximately equivalent to the amount generated by Guyana’s entire population over three months
Pull Quote: Lennon is convinced that ExxonMobil’s whole plan to develop oil in Guyana threatens to transform the country into a carbon bomb. “Wasteful and harmful gas flaring is just one more way that is happening,” the Senior Attorney concluded.
Even though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has given assurances that flaring at the Liza Phase One Project has ended, environmentalists here and abroad remain deeply concerned about the amount of gas burnt and the excuse provided by ExxonMobil to justify same.
Kaieteur News reported last week that ExxonMobil flared nine billion cubic feet of gas due to issues with a gas compressor for the Liza Destiny oil vessel.
Head of the EPA, Dr. Vincent Adams, had also said that based on ExxonMobil’s permit, it is allowed to flare gas in the case of start-up or for emergencies. Dr. Adams was keen to note that there is no cap on how much the operator should flare during those instances hence there was no breach of the permit when it flared that significant amount of gas.
While the EPA Head holds that view, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) is convinced that Guyana’s authorities are perhaps failing to understand the true magnitude of what took place. The not-for-profit law firm noted that flaring releases greenhouse gases and toxins which threaten the global climate, the local environment and public health. CIEL which was founded in 1989 also noted that the almost six-month duration of the flaring by ExxonMobil suggests more than a one-time, technical glitch. In fact, the law firm said that the estimated nine billion cubic feet of gas, which Exxon said it flared puts Guyana among the top 10 gas flaring countries in the world even though Guyana has only been producing oil for close to six months. CIEL said that the carbon dioxide emissions from that flaring are approximately equivalent to the amount generated by Guyana’s entire population over three months.
In a statement to the press, the Director of CIEL’s Climate and Energy Programme, Nikki Reisch, said ExxonMobil had not taken adequate measures to prevent this harmful and unnecessary practice in the first place. The official said, “…Exxon claims the flaring was temporary and exceptional, due to failures of equipment designed to re-inject the gas into the ground. If so, that bodes poorly for the company’s capacity or willingness to mitigate other foreseeable environmental impacts, not to mention any potential disasters that could accompany deepwater operations.”
CIEL’s Senior Attorney, Erika Lennon is also concerned about the flaring in Guyana. In fact, Lennon is convinced that ExxonMobil’s whole plan to develop oil in Guyana threatens to transform the country into a carbon bomb. “Wasteful and harmful gas flaring is just one more way that is happening,” the Senior Attorney concluded.
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 utilised 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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