Nov 27, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Former head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr. Vincent Adams has called out oil giant ExxonMobil for attempting to abuse the loopholes in the modified Liza One Permit to flare gas.
According to Section 3.6 of the modified document “Routine flaring and venting is strictly prohibited (excludes tank flashing emission, standing/working/breathing losses, low pressure streams) during any developmental drilling or production activities without EPA approval. Flaring is only permissible under the following conditions: Commissioning, Start-up, or Special Circumstances, as defined below…planned/unplanned maintenance and inspections on gas handling system and related processes, and construction activities”.
Adams is of the view that this privilege given to Exxon to flare gas when the gas handling system is under maintenance can be abused.
“They inserted (this) when I left, and I was in total shock, since they couldn’t use the startup as criteria anymore… they inserted a new clause that exempts them completely, as long as the gas handling equipment is under maintenance. It is exempt, which means that they can flare for as much as they want, as long as the gas handling equipment is being repaired and there is no penalty forever,” Adams explained.
According to him, the oil and gas company would use this as leverage, since flaring is much cheaper than reinjection.
Adams said that when the Liza One compressor was damaged back in April this year, he had insisted that the rate of production be decreased to cut back on the levels of flaring. He pointed out that for every 100,000 barrels of oil, along comes with it one hundred million cubic feet of gas. This was the gas oil ratio for this project.
He explained that different reservoirs would have differing gas oil ratios.
Exxon was not keen on this advice and argued that the solution was not that simple.
“For 6,000 barrels of oil, based on the cost per barrel per day, this would amount to the losses for the day, so they don’t want to lose that. At the same time we hear the EPA bragging that they are paying this $45 per tonne of Carbon Dioxide, but if you do the calculations that only equates the most to about $20,000. So they are saying that I don’t mind paying $20,000 to make half a million. It’s the cost of doing business as far as they are concerned, and they don’t care one damn thing about Guyana’s health and safety of the environment,” Adams pointed out.
In fact, the former Executive Director of the EPA said that President Irfaan Ali’s recent promise to cut the carbon emissions by as much as 70 percent by 2030 is far from achievable, given that flaring is poised to take place at unacceptable levels.
He reasoned, “This whole thing with this commitment or plan to cut the Carbon Dioxide footprint by 70 percent by 2030, where is the plan for that? It’s not going to happen. It’s a false claim, because you cannot say this and doing everything in the opposite. There is no plan for decreasing it and everything that you are doing, such as flaring and increasing the amount to 90 days of flaring, how is that going to reduce the footprint?”
“The other thing is, Exxon themselves said when they are putting together the Payara…Exxon’s justification for wanting to flare is because Guyana is a carbon sink. That’s what they said. They said it is okay for them to flare because Guyana is a carbon sink, which means that they have no intention of cutting back because they know that we have got the capacity to absorb more carbon,” Adams added.
In flagging the dangers associated with flaring, the environmentalist cautioned that over 200 pollutants are released in the process.
“When it goes up, it has to come down, so besides Global warming and climate change and all of that type of stuff, it has things like nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide, and when those mix with the moisture from the atmosphere it forms an acid, and so that is called acid rain,” the former EPA head pointed out.
He was keen to note that when the acidic water falls, it enters the ocean and affects fish, farming and the entire ecology.
Stabroek Block operator, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), has informed local authorities that it intends to burn 120 million standard cubic feet of gas per day for three months (90 days) during the startup of the Yellowtail Project.
The ExxonMobil subsidiary made this disclosure in the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The document for the fourth Stabroek Block development project specifically states, “…start-up flaring for the Project will be temporary and may require flaring for 90 cumulative days at the rate of 120 million standard cubic feet per day (MMscfd).” It was keen to note that this is just a “conservative assumption.”
The company also thought it prudent to advise local authorities that in its home country, the United States, flaring offshore may occur for up to one year with regulatory approval.
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