ExxonMobil cuts back on oil production to reduce flaring

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ExxonMobil has scaled back its production of oil offshore Guyana, in a bid to cut down on harmful and much criticised flaring.

This decision was reached after a meeting with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

EPA Director Dr Vincent Adams, in an interview with this publication, said 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,” 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 from 80,000 barrels per day to 25 to 30 thousand barrels per day. So, they would not go above that 15 million cubic feet per day.”

When it comes to the troublesome gas compressor, Adams revealed that the equipment is 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 utilize routine flaring.

According to her, they use the gas both to power the Liza Destiny Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) and to reinject.

“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.