May 17, 2022 News
Wales Gas-to-Energy project…
…acknowledges document is a global requirement
By Davina Bagot
Kaieteur News – A gas leak management plan is a critical document that is most times included in a developer’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), a study that lays the foundation for a permit to be granted by regulators for such a venture.
In Guyana, ExxonMobil through its subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), is pursuing in part, a Gas-to-Energy project, which will see the natural resource being transported to Wales, West Bank Demerara (WBD) via a pipeline from the Liza One and Two fields in the Stabroek Block.
An EIA for the project has already been submitted, however, the document does not state how gas leaks, a likely event listed, will be responded to, even though the Project Manager, Friedrich Krispin, has acknowledged that the company is required to present such a document around the world.
During a consultation hosted by ExxonMobil on Friday last at the Leonora Technical Institute, Jainarine Narine, Chairman of the Stewartville/Cornelia Ida Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) asked the oil company’s representative to specifically state what its management plan is in the event of a gas leak.
Krispin told the Chairman that the company rules its operations through a model referred to as ‘Operations Integrity Management System’ which requires the firm to establish and outline such response mechanisms.
In this regard, he said, “so for a facility like this one we are required to do this everywhere, all over the world, to set up an oil spill management plan (and a) gas leak management plan. That is (the) bread and butter of our operations because you cannot run an operation like this one without being unprepared to handle an unforeseen effect.”
Even though he acknowledged the importance of the document, the Project Manager addressed the news of the absent management plan by informing the handful of residents present that the Stabroek Block partners, which will also be involved in the project, have not only been investing time into the venture to ensure such events are avoided but are also financially stable to respond.
Krispin boasted, “the one thing I will say is that the Stabroek (Block) co-venturers have spent a lot of time making sure that these things don’t happen and therefore we will do all the best we possibly can; we buy all the best pipes, we install this facility in the best way we can etcetera. If something were to happen, the Stabroek (Block) co-venturers will firstly make sure that the source of the leak is stopped, so we have leak detection systems…we make sure that we take every precaution and have emergency response teams that can react to an event like this.”
He continued, “…one thing I can tell you about insurance, is two things the co-venturers in the Stabroek Block have the financial strength and the financial muscle to be able to (respond to) any kind of emergency that these facilities could have.”
In response to a follow up question by another concerned citizen, as to why the document was not included in the EIA, the Project Manager said it was not required, but will be submitted before the startup of operations.
“The reason why it’s not in the document is because a gas leak management system is a gas emergency response type process and procedure which is not part of an EIA. In the EIA we might say we are going to have one. It is part of operations and it will be developed before the operations get started…my guess would be about a year and a half before startup because you usually need about a year or a year and a half to train your employees and your operators…,” he explained.
However, Attorney-at-Law, Elizabeth Hughes, who was present during Friday’s meeting, questioned the logic behind the oil company’s reasoning, as she pointed out that the EIA includes an oil response plan in the event or an emergency, while the same diligence is not extended to a gas leak and other associated effects.
To this end, the representative of the Consultant firm, Environmental Resources Management (ERM), which conducted the study for the oil company, said that the oil spill response plan was merely included as it already exists, while adding, that such an event is also likely to occur as a result of the project.
Todd Hall, the Guyana Programme Lead for ERM explained, “…there is an oil spill response plan in the document because that oil spill response plan already exists. It was prepared to cover a range of spill scenarios, including ones that are only relevant to the offshore development projects and not relevant to this one at all, but it also covers smaller releases like the ones we talk about in this document from a marine vessel.”
It was also noted that a gas leak management plan is developed as part of the detailed design of a project, which is yet to be submitted hence it was not included in the EIA.
However, the attorney, not convinced, argued that there must be a gas response plan in the EIA document before the project gets an EPA approval.
In the EIA document, EEPGL explained that a loss of integrity of the offshore pipeline, resulting in a natural gas release can be caused due to corrosion, objects striking the pipeline, and a buildup of stress in the pipe wall, causing buckling. The EIA goes on to say that if an unplanned release of gas from damaged subsea pipelines occurs, the released gas will generate a gas plume that rises from the seafloor to the sea surface. Therefore, “Fire or explosion accidents can occur when the released gas disperses into the atmosphere and encounters ignition sources, which could have an adverse impact on human life and environment in the immediate vicinity of the fire.”
ERM added that the consequences of a release would likely be less severe offshore as it “is extremely unlikely that there will be an ignition source to cause a fire, and the gas will passively disperse without affecting any resources” rather than an onshore occurrence.
However, a release close to the Floating, Production, Sharing and Offloading (FPSO) vessel could result in a fire onboard the FPSO.
EEPGL said that to reduce the likelihood of a gas release, the offshore pipeline design and installation will vary depending on the pipeline depth.
Construction works for the project is expected to start as early as August 2022 for the project being pursued by EEPGL and its partners Hess Guyana Exploration Limited and CNOOC Petroleum Guyana Limited.
The project will involve capturing associated gases produced from crude oil production operations on the Liza Phase 1 (Destiny) and Liza Phase 2 (Unity) Floating, Production, Storage, and Offloading (FPSO) vessels, transporting approximately 50 million standard cubic feet per day of rich gas via a subsea pipeline and then an onshore pipeline to a Natural Gas processing plant.
At this point the gas would be treating the gas to remove Natural Gas Liquids for sale to third parties, and ultimately delivering dry gas meeting government specifications for use at the power plant.
The aspect of the project for which the oil company is responsible, that is to say, the installation of the offshore and onshore pipelines, is set to cost a whopping US$1.3B.
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