Gas compressor problems lead to increased flaring by ExxonMobil
United States oil giant ExxonMobil has had to increase its flaring of gas due to more technical issues on the gas compressor of the Liza Destiny vessel.
In a statement on Friday, the oil major said it is experiencing a technical issue with a seal on Liza Destiny’s gas compressor.
“This unfortunate incident resulted in us having to temporarily increase our flare above pilot levels in order to maintain safe operations,” the missive stated.
According to President of ExxonMobil Guyana, Alistair Routledge, efforts are underway to fix this issue as soon as possible.
“We are disappointed that this unexpected issue has occurred and we’re working diligently with the vessel’s owner and the equipment vendor to understand and fix the issue as quickly as possible,” Routledge posited in the brief statement.
Exxon further noted that the relevant Government authorities have been informed and that they are providing regular updates on the matter.
Only less than a year ago, the oil giant came under heavy fire for its flaring activities, which has negative effects on the environment and has had environmentalists up in arms over the harmful exercise.
In fact, in recent days, local environmentalist Annette Arjoon has been vocal on social media about the oil major recommencing heavy flaring offshore.
In a series of posts, she said, “the massive and negative flaring of 14 bln cu ft of gas for 365 days by Exxon… This photo was taken on the 13th January and shows flaring on the Liza 1. My understanding was that the faulty gas compressor which took almost one year to be fixed was finally resolved late 2020 and that flaring would have ceased. Would appreciate an explanation.”
In response to last year’s flaring which lasted over one year, ExxonMobil had cut back on oil production in an effort to reduce flaring after the fuel injection system was not commissioned. It subsequently commissioned a gas injection system to cut out flaring.
Back in December on the oil company’s first anniversary since commencing production in 2019, Routledge had expressed disappointment at the equipment issues they experienced and assured that routine flaring would not be used.
“ExxonMobil Guyana is committed to the responsible development of the country’s natural resources and will not utilise routine flaring during our operations,” Routledge explained in the statement.
“We are disappointed by the number of equipment issues experienced and that, because of these issues and COVID-19, commissioning of the gas injection system took longer than originally projected. We took significant steps to limit flaring and are incorporating lessons learned for future projects.”
Nevertheless, the PPP/C Government has made its position pellucid on routine flaring and in the Payara Development Licence, prohibited the activity unless approval was granted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“Flaring to maintain oil production will not be permitted. Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) will pay the Government for the cost of gas wasted during flaring and will also be subject to fines under the EPA related to emissions from flaring,” the Natural Resources Ministry had stated back in October. EEPGL is Exxon’s local affiliate, which along with other partners are operating in the Stabroek Block.
Meanwhile, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo had subsequently pointed out that while some have contended that Exxon has wiggle room to flare gas during its start-up, in reality, that wiggle room is no more than 60 days.
He explained that after those 60 days, Exxon can face fines from the EPA for flaring that does not fall under special circumstances. According to Jagdeo, this is a vast improvement from the Lisa Production Licence that the former APNU/AFC Government issued to Exxon, where routine flaring was not prohibited.
“In the last licence, flaring was permitted because there was no prohibition. In this licence, flaring is prohibited and there is a fine thereafter. Because you cannot enforce a prohibition unless you have a fine,” Jagdeo had explained.
“There will be two components to the fine. One, by the EPA which will do it based on carbon pricing and pollution. And that has to be put in place shortly, a system of fines pursuant to the permit. And the second component is the part we insisted on, on the usage of the gas. We’re entitled to half of that gas,” he further stated.
Jagdeo had noted that as such, if Exxon flares gas and is at fault for doing so, they, therefore, will have to pay a fine to Guyana for the burnt gas. (G8)