Feb 18, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – By producing 130,000 barrels of oil per day, ExxonMobil Guyana violated the terms set out in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for its Liza Phase One project. This is according to to Dr. Vincent Adams.
According to the EIA, the Liza Destiny FPSO was designed to receive the full production well stream from the development wells and will process crude oil at a design rate of 100,000 barrels of oil per day (BOPD) with potential to safely operate at sustained peaks of up to approximately 120,000 BOPD.
But it was only up until a few weeks ago that Exxon had cut back production to 120,000 BOPD due to another gas compressor malfunction now resulting in 16 to 18 million cubic feet of gas being flared per day.
ExxonMobil’s Guyana President, Alistair Routledge, had revealed that detail only after being pressed by the media. The oil giant had claimed that after the gas compressor malfunction, it had reduced production levels to accommodate flaring above pilot levels – the minimum level of flaring required for a safe operation.
However, no numerical details of what production levels were at that time was provided in that February 5 update. In fact, when asked at the time to provide the figures, ExxonMobil’s Government and Public Affairs Advisor, Janelle Persaud, refused to do so.
Details provided to this paper by Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat, and Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, indicated that the company had been producing at 120,000 BOPD as late as two days before the operational update was provided.
ExxonMobil had been flaring above pilot for about a week, by then.
This appears consistent with statements made by Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Hess Corporation, Gregory Hill, during an earnings call last month that ExxonMobil intends to evaluate options to increase the nameplate capacity of the vessel.
Routledge had also stated that ExxonMobil was already conducting higher production tests in January, but sought to note that the equipment failure is not linked to any higher production capacity test that ExxonMobil was doing.
But Dr. Adams, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), did not share the same view.
“Why were they producing at a 130,000 BOPD when the seal went bad this last time,” he asked, adding, “They were producing at 130,000 BOPD when the EIA itself said that they are hanging themselves on, the EIA said that the safe operating limit was 120,000 BOPD… an important question is whether it had anything to do with the failure of the seal?”
Dr. Adams pointed out too that of equal concern as well is the fact that the company planned to ramp up production despite having issues with the gas compressor on the FPSO.
“How high were they going to take this thing? And that 130,000 bpd, it exceeded the safety envelope of course. And if they have done this in terms of violating this safety envelope, how many other safety provisions are they violating?” he had asked as well.
It is on that premise that the former EPA head recommended that it was high time for the government to conduct an independent investigation into ExxonMobil’s claims.
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