Feb 11, 2021 News
– Old one reaches Germany for diagnosis
By Kemol King
Kaieteur News – ExxonMobil Guyana’s Government and Public Affairs Advisor, Janelle Persaud, said that the company has ordered a new flash gas compressor, which is expected to arrive later this year. Her comment followed questions from Kaieteur News on ExxonMobil’s enforcement of provisions in the Liza Phase One environmental permit which require equipment sparing. The company had flared gas all year in 2020, but is only now reporting an order of a new third stage compressor, after its equipment failed for the third time.
Article 3.13 of the Liza Phase One environmental permit, states “Efforts should be made to prevent equipment breakdowns and plant upsets, which could result in flaring and provisions should be made for equipment sparing and plant turn-down protocols where practical.”
“We do maintain spare equipment in country,” Persaud told Kaieteur News, “to support maintenance activities…”
Kaieteur News had inquired with Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Sharifah Razack, about the enforcement of the provision, and she had said that, as the internal mechanical seal on the defective compressor became unseated, there is a replacement seal already in country to install if the need arises.
This was clearly not enough to resolve the current issue, as ExxonMobil’s attempts at diagnosing and fixing the issue have failed.
ExxonMobil Guyana’s Production Manager, Mike Ryan, had told reporters on Monday that the company does not know why the seal failed, or whether a more thorough inspection by the manufacturer, MAN Turbo, would reveal some other issue in the machine.
“We don’t know it all. The machine is highly complex…” Ryan had said.
“We have placed an order for a new flash gas compressor, which will be available closer to the end of year, given the complex nature of the equipment,” Persaud told Kaieteur News.
The ExxonMobil representative noted that this action is “in addition to repairs on the existing equipment.”
The company revealed in an operational update yesterday that the compressor, the inlet silencer and necessary spare parts have arrived at the manufacturer’s workshop in Germany, the MAN Energy workshop.
“Teams of technical experts from the vessel’s owner SBM Offshore, the equipment manufacturer MAN Energy and ExxonMobil are currently preparing for inspection activities, which will help to define the scope and plan of repairs,” the statement posited.
ExxonMobil estimates, according to Country President Alistair Routledge, that the diagnosis for the defective compressor would take about eight weeks. In the meantime, ExxonMobil claims it will work as much as it can to find other ways to reduce the flaring, if possible.
By the time eight weeks pass, ExxonMobil is likely to have flared about 14 billion cubic feet of gas since it started production in December, 2019. Even then, the manufacturer would need time to repair the equipment after it figures out what the problem is.
Guyana will have to endure flaring for that long, at ExxonMobil’s Liza Phase One project.
It is notable that a Tuesday press conference with Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, revealed that ExxonMobil held back information on its rate of flaring during a closed engagement with the press on Monday.
Routledge had reported that ExxonMobil is flaring 16 million cubic feet of gas per day. Dr. Jagdeo revealed that the company is flaring up to 18 million cubic feet per day. Routledge only reported the lower end of the range.
ExxonMobil insisted yesterday that it is in compliance with all of its environmental permits and regulatory requirements and that it will continue to work with government to “find the right balance for the country while constantly seeking to minimise flaring.”
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