Jun 28, 2022 News
By Zena Henry
Kaieteur News – Head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Khemraj Parsram has confirmed that an investigation has been launched into the leak of some 925 gallons of the chemical asphaltene inhibitor which spilled during its transfer to the Liza Destiny floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) at ExxonMobil’s Liza 1 field.Parsram told the Kaieteur News yesterday that the spill occurred earlier this month and that a report was made to the agency, “during the course of June.” The EPA head did not go into detail as he said the matter is still under investigation and all the facts are being ascertained before further steps could be taken. Kaieteur News reported just a day ago that the spill would have leaked approximately 18.5 barrels of the chemical into the ocean. Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat confirmed the incident but had informed the newspaper that based on information received; the EPA had already dealt with the matter. He informed also that the spill was not a recent one but had occurred several months ago. However, new information reaching this publication has confirmed that the spill occurred weeks ago on June 7. The information states that the chemical transfer to the Liza Destiny FPSO was being conducted by G Boats (Guyana) Inc. when a milky substance was noticed floating atop the water. The chemical transfer had to be stopped and calculations were conducted to ascertain the amount of substance that leaked.
Kaieteur News was told that during these activities, there are certain Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that have to be observed. They include the reporting of flow rate, and transfer tickets detailing also transfer amounts among other things. Sources familiar with the incident have alleged however, the unavailability of said information within the system, prompting speculations of a possible cover up since there had been no information suggesting also that the matter had been reported to the EPA at the time. This newspaper was told that where such matters are concerned, there is a threshold for the amount of spillage. “I rather suspect that they would have gone over the threshold,” the source opined. They also questioned whether another chemical spill would have occurred months ago, which the minister alluded to, but to which the nation is unaware.
Kaieteur News nonetheless made contact with G Boats Inc. Country Manager, Greg Cheramie who promised to provide a comment. The newspaper contacted the manager requesting a statement on the matter but was asked to do so via WhatsApp since he could not speak at the time. A later response from the country manager said that, “G Boats Inc. has no comment.”
Initial information reaching Kaieteur News had said that “a supply ship was discharging chemicals to the FPSO and approximately 925 gallons were spilled which is around 18.5 drums. The chemical asphaltene inhibitor resulted in several fishes dying and floating to the surface.” The source said that, “I gather no one was paying attention and the hose that linked the two vessels leaked.” Further information is that “The captain of the supply ship has left Guyana I understand, and we also heard that no report was made to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).” The Natural Resources minister had said he received no information to suggest that the spill was recent.
Asphaltene inhibitor is described as a chemical used in the oil and gas industry to remove asphaltenes from crude oil. Asphaltenes are the impurities found in crude oil that if not removed can choke refining equipment. Asphaltenes, are the insoluble compounds that are always present in crude oil and must be removed before and during the processing phase in a refinery.
Asphaltenes can cause significant damage to machinery as they tend to clog highly capitalized infrastructure such as well tubulars, crude oil pipelines and subsurface equipment such as pumps and compressors. This clogging can eventually halt the crude oil refining process. During the crude processing, asphaltene is produced in the form of asphalt and is considered to be a waste material or byproduct. Asphaltene inhibitor is said to exhibit no toxicity to human body and/or environment, but precautions must be taken to avoid inhalation, ingestion, or contact with skin or eyes.
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