Faulty gas compressor: ExxonMobil looking at safe start-up in June

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United States oil giant, ExxonMobil Guyana plans to have its faulty equipment repaired and reassembled for a “safe start-up” of operations on the Liza Destiny Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel offshore Guyana in June.

This was indicated by Exxon’s Advisor on Public and Government Affairs, Janelle Persaud, in an update on repairs to the flash gas compressor, which is experiencing recurring technical issues.

“Repairs and upgrades to the third stage discharge silencer, a key component of the flash gas compression system for the Liza Destiny, are being progressed by MAN Energy Solutions at a facility in Houston, Texas. The manufacture of a redesigned 3rd stage discharge venturi has been completed and it is being shipped to Guyana. Current plans are for the equipment to be back in country and reassembled for safe start-up in June,” Persaud said on Friday.

In the meantime, she said ExxonMobil Guyana’s Production Manager, Mike Ryan, visited the MAN workshop in Houston this week to meet with the leadership team, technical experts and repair personnel, and have a firsthand look at the progress of repairs.

While repairs are ongoing, operations at the Liza Destiny continue safely with producing between 100 and 110 thousand barrels of oil per day (bpd) with a flare level below 15 million standard cubic feet of gas per day.

“ExxonMobil Guyana remains fully committed to resolving these technical challenges as quickly as possible, and remains engaged with relevant Government agencies to ensure operations are executed safely taking environmental, technical and economic factors into consideration,” Persaud said.

Only Thursday, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and Exxon’s local affiliate, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), signed a modified Environmental Permit for the Liza 1 Development Project in the Stabroek Block to include, among other things, a fine of US$30 per tonne of excess carbon emissions.

The Liza 1 Environmental Permit was recalled and modified to include specific regulatory requirements for flaring of associated gas offshore Guyana, in accordance with the EPA’s legislation. These were missing from the original permit that was issued under the previous APNU/AFC Administration.

Due to recurring technical issues onboard the Liza Destiny FPSO vessel, the oil company recently resumed flaring. This is following intermittent periods of flaring since December 2019.

The oil major was projected to exceed the 14 billion standard cubic feet (Bcf) of gas estimated to be flared by the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project on May 13, 2021.

Government has since been under heavy pressure to clamp down on Exxon over its excessive flaring.
Against this background, the EPA said it has been engaging EEPGL in discussions regarding the technical and legal issues regarding modifications to address flaring, and signed the modified permit.

Among the changes are revised terms and conditions relating to emissions reporting requirements, technical considerations for flaring, timelines for flaring events and an obligation for the company to pay for the emission of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) as a result of flaring in excess of these timelines.

Exxon has come under fire over its increased flaring activities in recent years with environmentalists up in arms over environmental and safety concerns.

Earlier this year, the company had sent its gas compressor for repairs in Germany after it developed technical issues resulting in increased flaring. But after being reinstalled in April, technical issues were still encountered, forcing the company to significantly drop production.

Meanwhile, Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat earlier this month said EEPGL will switch the manufacturer of the compressor equipment it uses, to ensure there is no flaring during future projects.

“This now has forced us to enter into engagements with Exxon to ensure that the Unity FPSO that is coming later in this year, and then Prosperity in early 2024, that we don’t have this issue with those FPSOs… So, we have gotten that assurance that General Electric (a US multinational company) will be used as the manufacturer to ensure that the compressor, there is not a recurring problem on those FPSOs with the gas compressor,” Bharrat told reporters last week.