EPA, GGMC inspecting ExxonMobil’s offshore operations

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The flash gas compressor that malfunctioned onboard the Liza Destiny Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel, resulting in oil giant ExxonMobil flaring 16 million cubic feet of gas daily offshore Guyana, has been repaired and is likely to be sent to Guyana this week.

According to the company in a statement on Monday, the technical teams are currently finalising the logistics for the flash gas compressor and silencers to depart Germany where it was being repaired, to Guyana sometime this week.

“This follows the successful completion of repairs, upgrades and mechanical testing of the compressor by MAN Energy Solutions, the equipment’s manufacturer, with quality assurance and control by experts from the vessel’s owner SBM Offshore as well as ExxonMobil,” the statement read.

It noted that a team from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission are progressing with the inspection of operations offshore.

The statement also detailed that in anticipation of the arrival of the compressor and silencers, teams on the Liza Destiny FPSO are preparing rigging and lifting equipment necessary to reinstall the equipment.

This publication, meanwhile, asked the company’s spokesperson, Janelle Persaud, about when flaring, currently averaging at 16 million cubic feet of gas per day, can be expected to return to normal pilot levels after the reinstallation of the gas compressor.

According to her, Exxon is aiming to have the compressor safely back online by the end of this month, at which time the oil giant is optimistic it can return flaring to pilot levels, which would average one million cubic feet of gas per day or less.

In the latter part of January, Esso Exploration & Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) had announced that it was experiencing technical problems with the seal on Liza Destiny’s flash gas compressor.

The problem resulted in Exxon having to reduce its production and also conduct routine flaring. Last month, Exxon had announced that an “axial vibration” was to blame for the failure of its compressor, which had to be shipped to the German workshop of MAN Energy Solutions.

It was subsequently revealed that Exxon had been flaring 16 million cubic feet of gas per day, an increase from the volume of flaring the company conducted last year which reportedly ranged between 12 and 15 million cubic feet.

It is a situation that Exxon executives have said no one is happy with, even as they work along with the regulatory agencies. Additionally, it was announced that Exxon is currently producing around 120,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd).

Before the flaring, production was at 130,000 bpd.

While some have called for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to act, their hands are, in fact, tied. At a press conference, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo had pointed out that Exxon is limited to flaring 14 billion cubic feet of gas.

According to him, this is per the approved Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which means that according to calculations, Exxon wouldn’t reach that flaring ceiling at current levels until the end of April 2021. Nevertheless, he had described the company’s current routine flaring as unacceptable.

However, Jagdeo had noted that by June of 2022, when the Liza 1 permit expires and has to be renewed, Exxon will have to submit to the inclusion of fines in the Liza 1 permit that is similar to what is obtained in the Payara permit.

Back in December of last year, on the oil company’s first year anniversary since commencing production in 2019, the company’s Country Manager, Alastair Routledge, had expressed disappointment at the equipment issues they experienced and had also assured that routine flaring would not be employed.