Jun 21, 2020 News
By Kiana Wilburg
ExxonMobil will have to address numerous environmental and other concerns before it gets approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its Payara project, which would pump 220,000 barrels of oil a day from the Stabroek Block.
During a recent appearance on Kaieteur Radio’s Programme, Guyana’s Oil and You, EPA Head Dr. Vincent Adams disclosed that one of the chief concerns Exxon has to face relates to the carbon emissions that would be released from five projects. The projects which include the Liza Phase One, Liza Phase Two and Payara are expected to be working simultaneously by 2026 latest.
In the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the Payara Project, one gets the impression that the release of green house gases (GHGs) by ExxonMobil’s projects would not be at an alarming rate.
The document notes that GHG emissions only increase in 2022 with the initiation of production operations for the Liza Phase 2 Development Project, and then again in 2023 with the initiation of production operations for the Payara Project.
It was noted that cumulative GHG emissions peak in 2025 and then decrease steadily over the next 15 years from approximately 6,500 kilotonnes per year to approximately 5,900 kilotonnes per year, as predicted production levels gradually decrease for the five development projects.
But a deeper analysis by reputable scientist Dr. Mark Chernaik of Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) found significant anomalies that may have escaped the attention of Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency. The scientist and attorney-at-law said, “The claim that the project’s emissions would be ‘over the next 15 years from approximately 6,500 kilotonnes per year to approximately 5,900 kilotonnes per year’ is grossly inaccurate as these emissions do not include indirect emissions, that is, the end use of the products derived from the crude oil.”
Based on FPSO key design rates provided in the EIAs for Liza Phase 1 (100,000 barrels per day), Liza Phase 2 (220,000 barrels per day) and Payara (220,000 barrels per day), cumulative oil production by ExxonMobil is expected to be around 540,000 barrels per day, or 197 million barrels of oil per year for the years 2024 to 2030.
Taking this into consideration, the scientist said that the average carbon dioxide emissions from production and eventual combustion of crude oil (including its refined products will not be 6,500 kilotons per year or 6,500,000 metric metric tons as Exxon claims but roughly 85 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year for the years 2024-2030 inclusive.
Dr. Adams said that upon noting the foregoing which Kaieteur News exposed, he has challenged the oil giant for a response.
He said too that the American super major was asked to address other concerns raised by Dr. Chernaik.
According to the scientist’s report, the severe social costs of greenhouse gas emissions of the Payara Development Project combined with the Liza Phase One and Liza Phase Two projects were not presented to decision-makers in the EIA. Dr. Chernaik explained that the social cost of carbon represents the economic cost associated with climate damage (or benefit) that results from the emission of an additional tonne of carbon dioxide. It is intended to include (but is not limited to) changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, property damages from increased flood risk, and the value of ecosystem services due to climate change. Based on his computations, the social cost of ExxonMobil’s projects would be US$34.8 billion. It was also noted that the indirect cost of the said emissions would be US$717 billion.
When these and other concerns are taken into consideration, the American scientist concluded that any approval granted would be done with a lopsided understanding of the impact these projects would have on the environment. Dr. Adams is now making efforts to correct this state of affairs.
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