… Exxon wants four more added by 2025
By Kemol King
ExxonMobil has flared more than 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas since it started producing oil at its Liza Phase One operations, which has placed Guyana at number six in the world per capita for countries emitting toxic gas by flaring. The World Bank has noted that flaring releases gases that are not only disastrous to the climate, but also directly harmful to human health with the gases containing more than 250 toxins, including cancer causing agents.
The Bank recently revealed its Global Gas Flaring Tracker Report dated July 2020. The countries which flared the most toxic gas in 2019 by gross volume are Russia, Iraq, the United States, Iran and Venezuela – in that order. However, due to their large populations, their per capita numbers would not be as high as Guyana.. The status quo at the oil major’s Liza Destiny operations causes Guyana’s rate of flaring to surpass all but one of the five nations, when the flaring is compared on a per capita basis. In this regard, Guyana trails only Libya, Gabon, Oman, Qatar and Iraq.
Though ExxonMobil styles itself as an effective manager of emissions, the oil major has failed to mitigate the flaring at Liza-1, which is its very first field development in Guyana. It was only meant to briefly flare gas at project start-up in late December last year, to test and fully commission the gas compression and injection systems at the site. Yet, the public was shocked to find out in January that Exxon was flaring gas way longer than expected.
As of the end of May, the company had flared more than nine million cubic feet of gas. Kaieteur News was informed that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated a reduction in production to keep the flaring low, while the company worked to have the cause, which it claimed to be a defective gas compressor, resolved. According to the EPA, ExxonMobil is still experiencing issues with the compressor. However, the gas flaring is reported to have reduced significantly from the 80 million cubic feet per day when it started, to 12-15 million cubic feet per day. The company has not given an end date for the flaring. If it continues at this rate, total gas flared is calculated to near 12 billion cubic feet or 337 million cubic meters by the end of 2020, by Kaieteur News’ conservative estimates.
ExxonMobil is preparing to start production at the Liza Phase Two project site in 2022, with a second Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel, the Liza Unity. That vessel will have the capacity to produce almost twice as many barrels of oil per day, as the 120,000 bpd Liza Destiny. The company eventually intends to have a total of five FPSOs operating in the Stabroek Block by 2025, even though it hasn’t gotten its act together on operation number one, with flaring at Liza-1 going on for almost nine months now.
ExxonMobil has exploited loopholes in its Liza-1 permit to allow it to flare, and the company has requested that the EPA to preserve those same loopholes in its future permits; the company still wants to add four more development operations by 2025. The Payara project, Exxon’s third intended development, is currently before the government for approval. Asked whether Government is prepared to approve Payara, even as Exxon continues to pollute the environment, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo indicated that the government does not want flaring.
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