Sep 20, 2020 News
– says Guyana’s health, safety and environmental well-being is worth any cost
By Kemol King
Member of Parliament (MP) of the Alliance for Change and presumptive shadow Energy Minister, David Patterson, on Thursday criticised ExxonMobil for the environmental damage
proliferating at its Liza Phase One operations, as a result of flaring of natural gas and dumping of produced water.
During his address to the National Assembly, the politician urged the government to act swiftly and decisively on these matters.
Patterson said that the government’s strategy for petroleum shows no commitment to safe and environmentally sound operations.
ExxonMobil has been flaring natural gas at the Liza Destiny- the Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel all year long, with the volume flared amounting to about 11 billion cubic feet so far.
The oil major has turned Guyana into one of the highest flaring countries per capita in the world, a phenomenon that has dampened internationally Guyana’s proud stewardship and care for the environment.
ExxonMobil should only have flared at startup to commission the equipment on the vessel, but it is content now to exploit a loophole in the permit to continue its pollution of the environment.
“Exxon seems to be resisting closing the loophole in the environmental permits,” Patterson said, “which allows for too broad an interpretation of startup operations. To continue to claim that they are still in startup mode is ridiculous.”
The company blamed its continued flaring on what it says is a defective gas compressor, currently undergoing repairs in Germany.
Patterson explained that a process to effect the cessation of flaring had started under the former APNU+AFC government, with the goal of rewriting the permit in a manner ExxonMobil cannot exploit.
The firm that administration had hired to review the Payara Field Development Plan (FDP) had not flagged the loophole, but it was Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr. Vincent Adams, who pointed out the issue.
The energy scientist continued to champion the issue when the PPP/C administration took over, but he was recently sent on leave, effectively removing him from the critical review.
Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, has said that the government does not want flaring, but did not disclose the government’s final negotiating position in its talks with ExxonMobil for the Payara permit.
As for ExxonMobil’s dumping of produced water, APNU+AFC is to be blamed for that, according to Patterson. The MP said that the coalition erred in allowing the oil major to dump the “contaminated” water, which amounts to about 4,000 barrels a day, into the ocean.
Exxon’s Country President, Alistair Routledge, had said that the dumping poses no damage to the environment, but the company has given no proof to back up that claim, as no studies were done. Patterson said that his words are not consistent with the views of experts.
The former Minister iterated that the produced water should be re-injected into the reservoir.
The Irfaan Ali administration does not appear to have a position on whether the water should be re-injected or dumped into the ocean.
Jagdeo had told Kaieteur News that no matter how the produced water is discharged; the handling must be in-keeping with international standards.
Patterson is adamant that ExxonMobil should foot whatever cost is necessary to mitigate these environmental hazards.
“The health, safety and environmental well-being of citizens of Guyana is worth any cost – this is standard international practice. Guyana cannot afford a disaster like those of international acclaim.”
The MP recommended that government include fines and penalties in the Payara Field Development Plan (FDP) and all future permits. In this regard, he urged the government to act urgently.
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