Feb 23, 2021 News
By Kemol King
Kaieteur News – Shadow Oil and Gas Minister and Alliance for Change (AFC) Member of Parliament, David Patterson, yesterday filed a motion with the National Assembly, which would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action to curb ExxonMobil’s flaring. The motion is being seconded by AFC MP, Cathy Hughes, who is also expected to operate in Parliament with an oil and gas portfolio.
ExxonMobil has been flaring since late January at a rate of 16-18 million cubic feet per day. The company has sent defective equipment to Germany for repairs, and expects reinstatement in about eight weeks. It had also placed an order for a new gas compressor, and expects it to arrive closer to the end of the year.
The MPs are not satisfied that all reasonable measures are being taken to ensure compliance with the Liza Phase One environmental permit, and will advocate by way of this motion, for the Parliament to direct ExxonMobil’s local subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), to abide by the terms and conditions of the permit issued on June 1, 2017.
They hold that the permit requires ExxonMobil to “employ effective operational and maintenance systems on all aspects of the facility whose failure could impact the environment…” and that it “expressly prohibits flaring and venting; with exceptions being made for “tank flashing emission, standing/working/breathing losses” and flaring related to the startup of the FPSO, emergencies or during periods of maintenance.”
The motion would require the EPA “to take all reasonable measures to ensure compliance including, EEPGL achieving zero flaring at the Liza One Project through reduction of oil production rates; and suspension of same Liza One Permit if zero flaring is not met, until it is satisfied that all reasonable and lawful efforts are being made to ensure that there is no flaring of gas as has occurred over the past several weeks.”
“EEPGL,” the motion states, “has routinely been engaged in flaring in direct contravention of the terms of the Liza One Permit issued and acknowledged, and as a result, has caused, and is causing substantial damage to the environment and the credibility of the Liza One Development Project.”
ExxonMobil’s Government and Public Affairs Advisor, Janelle Persaud, told Kaieteur News last night, “ExxonMobil Guyana complies with the conditions of the Liza Phase One environmental permit as we do all other laws and regulations related to our operations.”
Persaud had said a few days ago, “The permit prohibits routine flaring but specifies that flaring related to FPSO start-up, emergencies/process events, or maintenance activities are not considered routine.”
While the motion, if passed, would require ExxonMobil to reduce production, the Irfaan Ali administration has allowed ExxonMobil to produce oil at nameplate capacity of 120,000 barrels per day.
Patterson’s motion said that a reduction in production of 15,000 bpd would reduce flaring to pilot levels – low levels of flaring required to maintain a safe operation.
ExxonMobil President, Alistair Routledge, had told reporters on February 8 that by producing at the current rate, the company is working to find the right balance for Guyana, between mitigating flaring and securing revenues for the country as its economy has suffered from the impact of the pandemic.
The motion, if passed, would also see that the National Assembly orders “that the Liza One and Liza Two Permits be immediately amended by the EPA to become consistent with the updated conditions in the Payara Permit, relative to flaring.”
It states that “key terms such as startup, emergencies, commissioning, and maintenance periods were not clearly defined in the Liza One and Liza Two Permits, allowing EEPGL to claim that the Liza One operation was still in startup mode, thus EEPGL’s choosing to flare during months of production and sales of millions of barrels of oil after initial startup.”
This refers to last year, when ExxonMobil flared for more than 12 billion cubic feet of gas all year. It seeks to correct issues in the permit which allowed ExxonMobil to claim it was not in breach.
Patterson’s motion states “key terms such as startup, emergencies, commissioning, and maintenance periods have been revisited and clearly defined in the Payara Development Project Permit granted on September 24, 2020 (Payara Permit)…”
Patterson noted that Clause 13.1 in the Liza permits state, “The EPA Reserves the right to review and amend the conditions attached to this Permit.”
Revisions would not only apply to the new provisions linked to flaring but other new provisions in the permit, including better insurance provisions instituted by former Head of the EPA, Dr. Vincent Adams, in the Liza Phase Two permit, which is not present in Liza Phase One.
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