EPA constantly monitors release of water from FPSOs

– to partner with int’l experts for independent review of data

Liza Unity

In light of the potential harm due to the discharge of produced water by the Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels operating offshore Guyana, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has assured that it is keeping a close eye on the situation.
Produced water occurs when water is extracted from a well by an FPSO vessel, during oil and gas production. This water often contains harmful elements, such as chemical additives from well drilling, radioactive materials, dissolved salt, and, of course, oil. As such, this water must be treated before being discharged back into the ocean.

EPA Executive Director Kemraj Parsaram

In a statement on Tuesday, the EPA assured that it is keeping a close eye on all discharges of produced water in Guyana’s oil sector. EPA Executive Director Kemraj Parsaram explained that the agency is live monitoring the release of produced water.
“Despite these low risks, the EPA is committed to leading practice management of PFW in the Guyana EEZ. We receive live feeds of the PFW releases from the FPSOs and monitor those constantly. We also undertake independent sampling of water quality to ensure that our standards are met,” Parsaram was quoted as saying.
According to the EPA’s own requirements, produced water discharges must have an oil content of less than 15 milligrams/per litre (mg/L), with a maximum measurement of 42 mg/L and a monthly average of less than 29 mg/L. Additionally, the produced water discharge must not exceed three degrees Celsius in the temperature of the surrounding ocean 100 metres from the discharge point.
Earlier this year, EPA teamed up with MAXAR Technologies, a space technology company based in the US, to enable satellite monitoring of offshore oil and gas activities. Parsaram stated that the EPA continues to use this satellite monitoring to good effect, as well as to monitor for oil spills and gas flaring.
Additionally, EPA continues to test independently collected samples of the water to ensure that standards, including how much oil content the water can have, are met. Notwithstanding all of this, however, Parsaram vowed that the EPA would step up its monitoring and even engage international experts to help independently review data.
“The EPA would never allow any discharges that could be described as “hot, greasy water” from ever occurring in Guyanese waters. Our requirement is that any impacts have to be well within acceptable levels and as low as reasonably practicable. We use continuous independent satellite monitoring to detect even the slightest oil sheen on the waters and thermal imaging to detect every gas flaring. We ensure that our standards are being met every day,” Parsaram said.
“Despite this close oversight, the EPA is committed to increasing its monitoring of discharges from the FPSOs and developing an independent review of the monitoring data with the help of international experts. The EPA is committed to providing the people of Guyana with transparent, verifiable and reliable reporting of the impacts of the petroleum industry in Guyana,” the statement further explained.
Guyana, with US oil giant ExxonMobil as the operator, began producing oil on December 20, 2019, in the Stabroek Block from the Liza Phase One project. The Liza Destiny FPSO is currently producing oil from this project.
The oil-rich Stabroek Block, which is producing the oil, is 6.6 million acres (26,800 square kilometres). Exxon, through its local subsidiary Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), is the operator and holds 45 per cent interest in the block. Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd holds 30 per cent interest, and CNOOC Petroleum Guyana Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CNOOC Limited, holds the remaining 25 per cent interest.
ExxonMobil has said it anticipates at least six projects offshore Guyana will be online by 2027, with possibly 10 FPSOs operational by 2030. Production has already started in the second phase, with the Liza Unity FPSO vessel in operation.
The third project – the Payara development – will target an estimated resource base of about 600 million oil-equivalent barrels and was at one point considered to be the largest single planned investment in the history of Guyana. Payara is expected to come online by this year’s end.
Meanwhile, the Yellowtail development, which will be oil giant ExxonMobil’s fourth development in Guyana’s waters, will turn out to be the single largest development so far in terms of barrels per day of oil, with a mammoth 250,000 bpd targeted.
The Uaru oil development, which will be the fifth one for the company offshore Guyana, is targeting between 38 and 63 development wells, including production, water injection, and gas re-injection wells. Exxon had previously also made known that they anticipate the first oil from the Uaru development by late 2026 or early 2027. (G-3)