Jan 19, 2021 News
By Kemol King
Kaieteur News – Exxon’s Liza Phase Two development operation has been approved to dump produced water at three times the discharge rate of the currently producing Liza Phase One operation.
According to the Liza Phase Two Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approved by the former David Granger administration, the company will be dumping up to 300,000 barrels of produced water into the ocean every day.
This is three times the discharge rate of 100,000 barrels per day listed in the EIA of the current Liza Phase One producing operation, where ExxonMobil has polluted Guyana’s ocean for 13 months so far.
As Guyanese companies and citizens move with growing global efforts to protect the natural environment, this aspect of ExxonMobil’s offshore operations sees Guyana moving in the opposite direction. This issue could prove perilous for the ecosystems of marine life and the fishing industry, but no one knows just how detrimental the impact is.
The former government had approved the two development projects which allow ExxonMobil to dump a combined total of 400,000 barrels of produced water into the ocean every day, with no requirement for the company to study the effects of such dumping.In an August 2020 engagement with the press, President of ExxonMobil Guyana, Alistair Routledge, had posited that the oil giant wants to continue with its mode of operations which, according to him, includes treating the produced water to international standards and dumping it into the ocean. He had claimed it has no effect on the environment. Despite his claim, the company has never actually reported doing a study.
Former Head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr. Vincent Adams, had said during a November 2020 interview that Guyana erred when it allowed ExxonMobil to dump produced water into the ocean.
On the Kaieteur Radio show, Governance, Corruption and Justice, Dr. Adams told Senior Journalist, Kiana Wilburg that the produced water is high brine content which could have several times the salinity of seawater, and has many kinds of minerals in it, for which the effect on the marine environment is unknown. He added that the produced water is very hot and that it raises the water temperature near the Liza Destiny by 38 degrees centigrade.
“So you can’t tell me that that’s not gonna impact the environment…” Dr. Adams had said.
Dr. Adams had been leading the charge for ExxonMobil to have in place, the relevant technology to re-inject any and all toxic water extracted during the oil production process. However, he was fired by the Irfaan Ali administration before he could see this and other environmental issues regarding the Payara project to fruition.
In its last September approval of the Payara project, the current administration did not prohibit the dumping of produced water, but it required ExxonMobil to include tie-in points and space for produced water injection equipment, in the base design for the Prosperity Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel.
According to the Payara production licence, the government is to oversee a study to be conducted by ExxonMobil by the first quarter of 2021 to examine the safe and efficient reinjection of the produced water, and to determine the effects of the reinjection on the reservoir. The licence states that the study will also seek to determine how the effects of dumping produced water in the ocean can be minimized.
It has been nearly four months since this approval, and the deadline is fast approaching.
Kaieteur News sent questions yesterday to ExxonMobil Guyana and the EPA regarding the status of the study. Up to press time, neither of the two responded to this newspaper’s inquiries.
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