Govt approval was sought, granted for ExxonMobil to increase production – VP Jagdeo

– says Govt did its own independent review of plans to upgrade FPSOs

Government approval was sought, and granted, for ExxonMobil to increase the production capacity of its oil projects in the Stabroek Block, through debottlenecking, according to Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo.
Jagdeo’s announcement comes in the wake of a recent press conference from ExxonMobil Guyana President Alistair Routledge, during which he said that Exxon would be using the upcoming shutdown of production on the Liza Unity, to do upgrades that would increase production. The Vice President acknowledged that this has been a concern in some quarters.
“Of course, with the production. This has been some cause for concern, about the production being 645,000 barrels per day, which is above the rated, initially announced capacity, which would be nearly 100,000 less.”
“Because I believe it is 120,000 in the first FPSO and then 220,000 each from the others. So, the question has been, if you’re producing more than the initial capacity of the FPSOs, whether you’re doing so safely.”
Nevertheless, Jagdeo assured that the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did their own independent verifications to determine whether the production capacity of Exxon’s Floating Production and Storage Offloading (FPSO) vessels could be safely increased. And the answer, according to Jagdeo, is yes.
“And so, the Ministry has assured me that before this is done, they have reviewed this. The EPA has reviewed the plans of the operators to increase production. And they have said that this is safe. So, it’s safe and it was based on optimization,” Jagdeo explained.
“So, was there an independent check by the government or approval by the government, and was this submitted to the government? They have assured me, the Ministry, that this was done. And they had their technical people review these plans.”
During the recent press conference, Routledge had announced that the Liza Destiny and Unity FPSO vessels would be shut down in July-August, to facilitate installation activities for the Gas-to-Energy project.
Routledge had further revealed that during this shutdown debottlenecking activities would also be done on the Unity FPSO- that is, modifications to allow the vessel to produce above 250,000 barrels of oil per day. When the vessel was first commissioned, it had a target capacity of 220,000 barrels per day.
Routledge had also noted that even with the modifications that have already been done, the reservoirs are performing exceptionally well. He further assured that debottlenecking is a standard industry practice.
When it comes to the Prosperity FPSO, which services Exxon’s third Payara project, the company is also eyeing the possibility of increasing production there. Routledge explained that they are going through reviews with government ministries and agencies such as the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The executive had also assured that safety was an ever-present factor and in fact, it is the workers on board who make the final determination on increasing production and whether it is safe to do so. Further, he reminded that extensive reviews must be done, including by independent parties such as the government.
Exxon’s plans to boost production figures will be further buttressed by the Yellowtail and Uaru developments, which are already underway and are anticipated to contribute 250,000 barrels of oil each following their respective start-ups. Meanwhile, Exxon has already received approval for their sixth project, Whiptail.
In addition to at least these six projects offshore Guyana that Exxon anticipates will be online by 2027, it is also eyeing the possibility of having 10 FPSOs operational by 2030. (G-3)