Guyana should beware – Ex T&T gas company head
What Guyana faces right now with the Payara project and ExxonMobil is not new to the oil and gas industry.
Experiences faced by Trinidad and Tobago show that it is very common for companies in the industry to disregard public interest matters in the interest of economic pursuits, by pandering directly to politicians.
Sustainability Engineer and former Director of the National Gas Company of T&T, Cathal Healy Singh, appeared on last Tuesday’s edition of Kaieteur Radio’s Petroleum 101, where he discussed environmental issues faced by Guyana in the context of the oil and gas sector.
Speaking on the experiences of T&T, Singh said that when there were important public interest issues, civil society and other public interest groups would pressure the local regulator to address their concerns.
In such cases, he explained, “the developer would call the Prime Minister and say “you know, we’re having trouble with your regulator”.”
He said that the company would impress on the government that time is money, and that it would be unreasonable to delay any progression of its operations when there is money to be made.
“In every case,” Singh said, “the political apparatus was very much inclined to pursue economic interests that were short-term, and the regulator… the technical cadre of people in there, they had to go along with it, or else they would find themselves without a job very quickly.”
He said that that is the nature of the energy sector in T&T.
“It’s a very interesting and checkered history, I might say, and one that Guyana can learn a lot from.”
In Guyana’s case, ExxonMobil is responsible for two grave environmental infractions at its Liza Phase One operations.
At the Liza Destiny Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO), it is flaring billions of cubic feet of toxic gas instead of re-injecting it. The company blames the issue on a defective gas compressor currently undergoing repairs in Germany.
It is also dumping thousands of barrels of produced water everyday into the ocean, despite best practices requiring that the water be re-injected into the reservoir.
ExxonMobil’s Country Manager, Alistair Routledge has claimed that there is no environmental hazard, despite there being no evidence that studies were done on the impact of the produced water on the environment.
ExxonMobil appears intent on having the same issues which exist in the Liza Phase One project preserved in the upcoming Payara project, as it intends to have the loopholes and configurations which allow these infractions remain in the Field Development Plan (FDP).
In addition, Exxon is responsible for several small hydraulic fluid spills at the Liza Destiny, but refuses to pay the small fines imposed upon it because it does not consider them applicable. ExxonMobil said that the spills are too small to have a grave impact on the environment. Due to its refusal, EPA Head, Dr. Vincent Adams, currently on leave, had announced that the EPA would take the company to court.
After he raised these issues and fought to have them resolved, he was sent on leave by the Irfaan Ali administration, and another Director, Sharifah Razack, was made to act in his stead.
“The issue confronting the EPA in Guyana is an extremely difficult one,” Singh stated.
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