Feb 18, 2021 News
By Kemol King
Kaieteur News – ExxonMobil said that repairs and upgrades have commenced on its defective gas compressor which is currently with its manufacturer, MAN Turbo, in Germany. This followed a detailed inspection by the technical experts at the MAN Energy Solutions workshop, ExxonMobil said in an operational update.“We do keep spare equipment in Guyana to support maintenance activities, including the seals for the flash gas compressor which had failed at the end of last month and spare rotors,” ExxonMobil said. “However, our initial examination determined that the necessary repairs required equipment and expertise at the manufacturer’s workshop in Germany. Last year, we ordered a new spare flash gas compressor, but it will not be available until later this year due to the complex nature of the equipment.”
The company has given operational updates to the press for the past week. The compressor was cleared with customs in Germany, according to a February 12 update, and was unpacked and disassembled for inspection and assessment. ExxonMobil said that it met with stakeholders on February 12 to provide an operational update, and spoke to more than 120 participants from business associations and other civil society groups.
According to another operational update, by Tuesday the team on the Liza Destiny Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) had already completed visual inspection of piping and pipe supports, and the mechanical rework of the defective compressor’s casing had been undertaken in Germany.
ExxonMobil has been flaring above safe pilot levels – the minimum amount of flaring required to maintain a safe operation – since January 30 after it encountered issues with the compressor. It has been flaring about 16-18 million cubic feet of natural gas every day.
The company’s position is that it has not breached any of its permits or the law: “We operate under a robust regulatory system and comply with all laws, regulations and permits; dedicating thousands of hours monitoring, validating and documenting our compliance to these regulations and our permits.”
ExxonMobil noted prominently in its update “MAN Energy has confirmed there is no linkage between the production optimization activities and the technical issues with the flash gas compressor. At the time of the incident with the compressor, it was only operating at 70 percent of its design capacity. Production optimization is a normal process for operations around the world. A comprehensive safety evaluation took place prior to the optimization process.”
Government and Public Affairs Advisor, Janelle Persaud, did not immediately respond to a question from Kaieteur News last night about what the actual cause of the technical issues was.
Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), had decided to commence higher production capacity tests on the Liza Destiny to raise its nameplate capacity above 120,000 barrels per day, and started doing so as early as January.
Chief Operations Officer at Hess Corporation, Gregory Hill during a January 27 earnings call for the fourth quarter of 2020, had said that ExxonMobil would be evaluating options to increase nameplate capacity of the Liza Destiny operation, but he had said that those options would be pursued in the third quarter of 2021, not the first.
The press only found out during a February 8 press conference, that ExxonMobil had already been doing higher production capacity tests and that it had been producing as high as 130,000 barrels per day in January. ExxonMobil officials said that the Liza Destiny is able to produce as many as 158,000 barrels of oil per day.
On the sidelines of a press conference held by Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, on Tuesday 9, Kaieteur News had asked whether the company had informed the government about its higher production plans. Dr. Jagdeo said that it did not, but he didn’t mind the higher production capacity tests either way. His policy for the depletion of Guyana’s reserves is that production should be done as quickly as possible, to beat the energy transition to renewable sources.
This is why the Government has not mandated a reduction in ExxonMobil’s production, as was done by former Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr. Vincent Adams, when it was discovered last year that ExxonMobil was flaring way longer than it should have, following the start of oil production in December 2019.
ExxonMobil had flared gas for an entire year, also due to an issue with its equipment, and had taken an entire year to resolve the issue. By then, it had already flared more than 12 billion cubic feet of gas.
This year, it has already flared upward of 300 million cubic feet of gas, according to this newspaper’s calculations.
“ExxonMobil Guyana maintains a high level of safety, which is a core value at all of our operations and facilities,” it said.
“As the teams work to complete repairs as quickly as possible, we continue to safely manage production and flare levels on the Liza Destiny FPSO.”
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