Feb 20, 2021 News
By Kemol King
Kaieteur News – Today makes three days since Kaieteur News asked ExxonMobil to clearly define the cause of flaring at the Liza Destiny Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel.
On the morning of February 18, Government and Public Affairs Advisor for ExxonMobil Guyana, Janelle Persaud, told reporters “Axial vibration of the compressor rotor was the initiating event of the technical issue experienced on January 27. The resulting vibration within the compressor was the cause of the mechanical seal failure initially reported.”
At this point, Kaieteur News asked whether the vibration of the rotor was linked to the previous issue ExxonMobil encountered which caused it to flare all year 2020, and/or whether it was linked to a design flaw, improper maintenance or some other cause. This was asked to ensure that there wouldn’t be a related reoccurrence at Liza Phase One or any of ExxonMobil’s future developments. ExxonMobil was also asked to provide a timeline for the repairs on the compressor.
Up to press time last night, there was no definitive answer.
The company’s local subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), insists that the issue is not linked to tests; it has been doing to increase the production capacity of the operation.
The first time it said this was during a press conference on Monday, February 8, which was held to brief media operatives and field their questions on flaring occurring since January 27, last. EEPGL’s Production Manager, Mike Ryan, had said that the higher production testing was not the cause, as the equipment was operating at 70 percent capacity when the malfunction occurred.
When the company sent out a release on February 17, announcing that repairs had begun on the flash gas compressor at the manufacturer’s MAN energy workshop in Germany, it stated, “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% 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.”
This question of whether the production capacity testing caused the equipment malfunction, which led to flaring was not raised by Kaieteur News, but ExxonMobil repeatedly insisted this in its public statements. It is yet to say what the actual root cause was.
Meanwhile, flaring continues at the Liza Destiny at a rate of about 16-18 million cubic feet per day, having added hundreds of millions of cubic feet to the 12 billion flared last year, a state of affairs Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo said is unacceptable.
ExxonMobil intends to increase the production capacity of the Liza Destiny. It has produced up to 130,000 barrels of oil per day. Production Manager, Mike Ryan has said that the Liza Destiny currently has liquids capacity of 158,000 barrels per day.
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