Aug 26, 2020 News
Environmental issues plaguing Payara field plan…
Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, confirmed with Kaieteur News last evening, that ExxonMobil and key regulatory bodies would be meeting today to address key environmental issues related to Payara, the oil giant’s third field development plan.
The official said that the agencies include the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC).
The Minister reminded that the review was supposed to be completed on Monday, August 24, but that the timeline has been extended.
The official said, “…We gave a few days more to wrap up to ensure we have a sound agreement.”
Almost a week ago, Kaieteur News would have reported that one of the critical issues stymieing the approval process is ExxonMobil’s desire to retain the loopholes it got in the Liza One and Two permits which allow for flaring.
The other matter of concern pertains to the dumping of produced water into the ocean. When oil companies drill the sea floor to extract oil, it is not only oil that comes up with it; water is part of the mixture too. As a result of it not being needed, it is separated and disposed of.
The critical issue is how that disposal is being done. International best practices dictate that this produced water should be re-injected into the earth’s surface. Research conducted by Kaieteur News notes that in some cases, the produced water is discharged into oceans and other offshore water channels. Because no two geographic regions are alike, studies are done to assess the environmental risks of the produced water’s toxicity on marine life before granting approval for the disposal of it into the ocean.
In Guyana’s case, not a single study was done for the Liza Phase One or Two Projects. Yet, Guyana went full steam ahead with approving the permits for those projects, which allow for the disposal of produced water into the ocean.
Recognizing the grave mistake made in this regard, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is headed by Dr. Vincent Adams, wants ExxonMobil to put systems in place for the re-injection of the produced water for the Payara project.
Kaieteur News was able to confirm with key officials close to the project that ExxonMobil is not pleased about this request and has rejected it.
Dr. Adams was keen to note, however, that he is not a proponent for the dumping of produced water into the ocean. He said that the Liza Destiny vessel is already dumping 4,000 barrels of produced water and in about six years, it will get to about 300,000 barrels.
Dr. Adams said, “I have worked in the oil fields as a Production and Reservoir engineer and we injected every single drop of water. If you are onshore, the water would obviously have to be re-injected. Also, the World Bank has made it clear that you should only dispose of produced water into the ocean when it is not technically feasible.”
In ExxonMobil’s case, Dr.Adams said it is more than feasible.
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