ExxonMobil cuts back on offshore oil production to reduce flaring
ExxonMobil has scaled back its production of oil offshore Guyana, in a bid to cut down on harmful and much-criticised flaring, a decision it reached after a meeting with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
This was revealed by EPA Director, Dr Vincent Adams, in an interview with <<<Guyana Times>>>. According to him, ExxonMobil has reduced its production from 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) to between 25,000 and 30,000 bpd.
“What we did, we said they cannot stray more than (the limit). They started out flaring about 80 million cubic feet per day. And then, when they were commissioning the compressor to inject the gas, the compressor failed,” Dr Adams explained.
“So, when they were commissioning the compressor, it started working. So, they cut back the gas flaring from 80 million cubic feet per day to 15. Then the compressor failed again. So basically, after discussions with them, they all agreed that they should cut back oil production…. So, they would not go above that 15 million cubic feet per day.”
When it comes to the troublesome gas compressor, Dr Adams revealed that the equipment was still giving problems and moreover, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) has reported being unable to source technical assistance from the manufacturers, such as technological and engineering manufacturer Siemens.
“Well, they’re still working on it. They’re trying to get their expertise in – Siemens and another company. But of course, the COVID-19 restrictions are preventing these experts from coming in. Some of them have to come from Brazil, Germany, etc. So, they may have to send the equipment abroad.”
This publication had contacted Exxon Public Affairs Adviser Janelle Persaud last month, and she had explained that by design, EEPGL’s operations did not utilise routine flaring. According to her, they use the gas both to power the Liza Destiny Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel and to reinject into the reservoir.
“Start up for Liza Phase 1 involves temporary, non-routine flaring to fully commission the gas compression and injection systems for safe operations as outlined in the approved environmental impact assessment and permit,” Persaud said.
“The Liza Phase 1 project design eliminates routine flaring by using produced gas to power the Liza Destiny FPSO vessel and by reinjecting gas into the reservoir to conserve the gas and to improve oil recovery, thereby reducing emissions compared with traditional methods.”
According to her, they had begun gas injection into the reservoir. Gas reinjection is a common process used by oil and gas operators to maintain pressure and enhance oil production by reinjecting gas back into the reservoir.
Only recently, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) had released a statement in which it called on the company to stop flaring gas offshore Guyana. CIEL had claimed that the flaring exceeded the levels approved by the Government, a level that now puts Guyana among the top ten gas-flaring countries in the world.
“The carbon dioxide emissions from that flaring are approximately equivalent to the amount generated by Guyana’s entire population over three months,” CIEL had said in its statement. “And the problem risks getting worse over time as Exxon moves forward to extract the estimated eight billion barrels of recoverable oil it has discovered off Guyana’s coast.”
Local conservationists have also been up in arms over Exxon’s flaring. Skytruth, an international environmentalist non-profit Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), was enlisted by local environmental group Guyana Marine Conservation Society (GMCS) to provide satellite imagery and data regarding flaring offshore Guyana. The imagery, as referenced by Skytruth, had indicated routine flaring.