By Kiana Wilburg
In the last six months, ExxonMobil has burnt over nine billion cubic feet of associated gas due to mechanical issues experienced with a gas compressor for the Liza Destiny oil vessel.
But how significant is that number? According to President of the Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL), Carroll Muffett, it is equivalent to more than a kilogramme (kg) of Carbon Dioxide (C02) for every Guyanese. At room temperature, one kg of CO2 can occupy the trunk of a large car.
During his first appearance on Kaieteur Radio’s Programme, Guyana’s Oil and You, the revered attorney-at-law and environmentalist said it can be difficult for most to understand just how considerable nine billion cubic feet is and even the 15 million cubic feet of gas that the oil giant is flaring per day. But one of the best ways to translate this, Muffett said, is by looking at the Guyana’s energy consumption.
The CIEL official said that the nine billion cubic feet of gas that Exxon flared since operations began last year is equivalent to 1.5 million barrels of oil.
“And to put that in more perspective, Guyana’s electricity sector in 2016 burnt 1.8 million. So you have ExxonMobil burning roughly the equivalent of gas or oil in six months from flaring as Guyana’s entire electricity sector burnt in a year and this is ongoing.”
He added: “ …Another thing that we looked at is every day this continues, Exxon is releasing nearly 790,000 kilogrammes of CO2 into the atmosphere – that is more than a kilogramme of CO2 for every man, woman and child in Guyana per day…”
The official said this is indeed significant while noting that it should be given due attention by the relevant authorities.
Since learning via the local media that ExxonMobil has been flaring at its offshore Guyana project, the Center for International Environmental Law has been quite outspoken on the dangers of this practice while noting that Guyana’s authorities are perhaps failing to understand the true magnitude of what is taking place.
The not-for-profit law firm, which was founded in 1989, noted that flaring releases greenhouse gases and toxins which threaten the global climate, the local environment, and public health.
The law firm has also 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 too 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 it is quite clear that ExxonMobil had not taken adequate measures to prevent this harmful and unnecessary practice in the first place.
“…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.
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