Feb 01, 2021 News
– Minister Bharrat says Liza oil production to remain at 120,000 barrels
By Kiana Wilburg
Kaieteur News – Guyana experienced a tumultuous first year as an oil producing State. It was not only hard hit by the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was also characterized by damning levels of air pollution.
For more than a year, the nation saw how ExxonMobil’s operations at the Liza Phase One Project contaminated the atmosphere with the burning of over one billion cubic feet of gas. This level of flaring was a direct result of a faulty gas compressor. Many expected that 2021 would be different after the oil titan claimed that the issue was fixed.
The hope was that should this occur again, the oil titan would be made to face the music; that it would be made to face some type of consequence.
But those who held such optimism, particularly as it relates to seeing a change with the Liza Phase One project, will be surely left to hang their heads in abject pain and shame for once again, ExxonMobil will face no punishment for this reckless endangerment of the environment. Confirming this on Friday evening with Kaieteur News was Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat.
Contacted to speaking on revelations by ExxonMobil that its gas compressor has broken down once again due to technical issues with a seal which would result in increased flaring, Bharrat said, “Yes, I just confirmed this to be true, but they are working to get this fixed in a few days.”
The Minister said that unfortunately, the development licence that was granted by the APNU+AFC had no provision that catered for fines to be instituted in these arrangements. “However, we negotiated for fines in the Payara development. We are working with them to get this fixed.”
The Minister further stated that production at the Liza field which reached 120,000 barrels of oil last year December would not be affected while adding, that flaring levels would not go beyond 15 million cubic feet.
Extensive research conducted by Kaieteur News shows that gas flaring contributes to climate change, which has serious implications for the world.
In fact, the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria, was keen to note in one of its studies that gas flaring is actually a major source of greenhouse gases (GHG) which accelerates global warming.
It was noted that flaring releases carbon dioxide and methane, the two major greenhouse gases. Of these two, methane is actually more harmful than carbon dioxide. It is also more prevalent in flares that burn at lower efficiency. Those less efficient flares tend to have more moisture and particles in them that reflect heat, and are said to have similar effect on the ozone layer like aero-sols do.
Of the greenhouse gases researched so far, Kaieteur News understands that the global warming potential of a kilogramme of methane is estimated to be 21 times that of a kilogramme of carbon dioxide when the effects are considered.
The Department of Mechanical Engineering has also noted, that flaring contributes to local and regional environmental problems, such as acid rain with attendant impact on agriculture, forests and other physical infrastructure. The acid rain results in environmental degradation, which includes soil and water contamination, and roof erosion.
Furthermore, there have been over 250 identified toxins released from flaring including carcinogens such as benzopyrene, benzene, carbon disulphide (CS2), carbonyl sulphide (COS) and toluene; metals such as mercury, arsenic and chromium; sour gas with Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) and Sulfur Dioxide (SO2); Nitrogen oxides (NOx); Carbon dioxide (CO2); and methane (CH4) which contributes to the greenhouse gases .
ExxonMobil’s EIAs, including the one under review for the Payara project, make no mention of the foregoing.
It does note, however, that a flare system will be provided for the collection and safe disposition of produced hydrocarbon gases resulting from unplanned, non-routine relief and blow-down events.
ExxonMobil noted that relief events occur to prevent overpressure scenarios in the process equipment.
In addition, the American oil giant stated that temporary, non-routine flaring will occur during equipment maintenance, process upsets, and start-up.
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