Flaring among issues raised by Opposition during meeting with ExxonMobil
After expressing concerns over the operations offshore Guyana, the Opposition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) on Thursday met with senior officials of United States oil giant ExxonMobil Guyana, during which they raised concerns about a host of issues, including flaring.
Last week, Exxon revealed that while conducting the final testing phase of the reinstalled flash gas compressor and other components of the system on the Liza Destiny FPSO, it encountered an additional problem with the discharge silencer. This had resulted in the oil company reducing daily production to 30,000 barrels per day (bpd) and flaring some 4 to 5 million cubic feet of gas per day, slightly above pilot levels.
Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon had expressed concern over these issues, and requested a meeting with the local executives of the country’s lone oil producer.
Harmon hailed the high-level meeting on Thursday as “successful”. He met with President of ExxonMobil Guyana, Alistair Routledge; Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) – Exxon’s local affiliate – Production Manager Mike Ryan, and Public and Government Affairs Advisor Janelle Persaud.
The Opposition Leader said he and his team were briefed on the significant scaling down of operations.
“This matter is of considerable concern to all of us, given the impact it would have on Guyana’s earnings from the industry. We have been bombarded with questions and concerns from the public and our supporters, and therefore took the opportunity to engage with Exxon to benefit from their direct explanations, and to inform them of our position on the issues,” Harmon said in a statement following the meeting.
However, it was noted that at the heart of the entire issue is the flaring of gas into the atmosphere and the operational efficiency of critical equipment.
“We informed ExxonMobil that we are resolutely against flaring, except when permitted at pilot light level. We inquired whether the people of Guyana will have to bear the cost associated with the malfunctioning equipment. We are insisting that the issues be resolved as a matter of urgency, and production can be safely returned to optimum levels,” the Opposition Leader posited.
He went on to say, “While we seek to exploit our natural resources, we must maintain a strong commitment to doing so within a green framework, with minimal effect to our environment on land and at sea, and with respect for our laws.”
Excess flaring had previously averaged 16 million cubic feet of gas per day following the compressor malfunction in February. The issue had environmentalists up in arms over the harmful effects flaring can have.
Ramp up production
However, the US oil major, in an update on Wednesday, said production has been returned to between 100,000 and 110,000 bpd, accompanied by a flare level of no more than 15 million cubic feet of gas per day.
“These operating parameters were defined after careful consideration of safety, environmental, technical and economic factors, as well as discussions with the relevant Government agencies on the best path forward, while repairs and upgrades are ongoing,” Exxon’s Advisor Janelle Persaud said.
Meanwhile, during Thursday’s meeting, the Opposition Coalition also raised the issue of ExxonMobil’s involvement in the Government’s gas-to-shore project. The APNU/AFC has been critical of the project despite many experts, both local and foreign, saying it is viable and will help to alleviate Guyana’s electricity woes by adding some 200-250 megawatts of power to the national grid.
According to Harmon, Exxon has given a commitment to a fuller presentation on all of these matters, recognising that this is a very important project to the development of Guyana and the lives of Guyanese.
The Opposition Leader was accompanied by Coalition Members of Parliament Khemraj Ramjattan, Amanza Walton-Desir, David Patterson, Geeta Chandan Edmond, Ronald Cox and Roysdale Forde.
“Overall, I am satisfied with the tone and content of the meeting [with] Mr Routledge, and both sides expressed a strong desire to engage on a more regular basis. This was the first in what I anticipate to be a series of ongoing meetings. I would like to thank Mr. Routledge and his team for meeting with us, and for the information and assurances which they provided,” Harmon stated. (G8)