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In three months, Exxon Guyana's 4th project will flare two – thirds of gas Liza Destiny burnt in two years

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Kaieteur News

GEORGETOWN
Petroleumworld 11 11 2021


Stabroek Block operator, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), has informed local authorities that it intends to burn 120 million standard cubic feet of gas per day for three months (90 days) during the start up of the Yellowtail Project.

The ExxonMobil subsidiary made this disclosure in the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The document for the fourth Stabroek Block development project specifically states, “…start-up flaring for the Project will be temporary and may require flaring for 90 cumulative days at the rate of 120 million standard cubic feet per day (MMscfd).” It was keen to note that this is just a “conservative assumption.”

The company also thought it prudent to advise local authorities that in its home country, the United States, flaring offshore may occur for up to one year with regulatory approval.

Should the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approve this, it would mean that ExxonMobil will burn 10.8 billion standard cubic feet of gas in three months. This would be more than half of the gas that was flared via the Liza Destiny vessel from December 2019 to September 2021, which totals approximately 17B standard cubic feet of gas.

Even as it disclosed that a significant volume of gas would be flared during start up of the project, the oil company was keen to note that the oil vessel (a Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading –FPSO vessel) for Yellowtail has been designed to re-inject associated gas under routine conditions, except that which will be used as fuel gas, flare pilot gas, and background flare gas. It said, too, that a flare system will be provided for the collection and safe disposition of hydrocarbon gases resulting from non-routine relief, blowdown, and maintenance events. In addition to this, EEPGL said temporary, non-routine flaring will occur during equipment maintenance, process upsets and during commissioning and start-up while adding that estimated flaring is higher in 2026 due to start-up. In this regard, it said start-up operations on the FPSO include temporary flaring, which is standard within the industry until the gas compression and reinjection system are fully commissioned.

Following the initial start-up period, EEPGL shared that flaring (beyond flaring of pilot gas, purge gas, and other de minimis streams described in this chapter) will take place when necessitated by shutdowns, upsets and emergency conditions, planned or unplanned maintenance, production re-starts following shutdowns, and potentially commissioning and startup of new units or renovation of existing units.

Furthermore, EEPGL said flaring volumes associated with start-up will be further refined based on schedule optimizations to achieve pilot flare (the burning of one million standard cubic feet of gas or less) as early as feasibly possible.

It said too that its facility will be monitored on a 24-hour per day basis to manage operational events that may cause flaring. EEPGL said this monitoring will provide the capability to intercept and deflect events that may result in flaring to the extent possible.
Finally, the Exxon subsidiary said lessons learned from commissioning, start-up, and operation of other FPSOs in Guyana will be reviewed and appropriate mitigations put in place to avoid recurrence of issues found in the past.

DANGERS OF FLARING

Extensive research conducted by Kaieteur News shows that gas flaring contributes to climate change, which has serious implications for the world.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria, was keen to note in one of its studies that gas flaring is actually a major source of greenhouse gases (GHG) contributing to global warming which could accelerate the problem of climatic change and harsh living conditions on earth, if not checked.

It was noted that flaring releases carbon dioxide and methane, the two major greenhouse gases. Of these two, methane is actually more harmful than carbon dioxide. It is also more prevalent in flares that burn at lower efficiency. Those less efficient flares tend to have more moisture and particles in them that reflect heat and are said to have similar effect on the ozone layer like aerosols do.

Of the greenhouse gases researched so far, Kaieteur News understands that the global warming potential of a kilogram of methane is estimated to be 21 times that of a kilogram of carbon dioxide when the effects are considered.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering has also noted that flaring contributes to local and regional environmental problems, such as acid rain with attendant impact on agriculture, forests and other physical infrastructure. The acid rain results in environmental degradation, which includes soil and water contamination, and roof erosion.

Furthermore, there have been over 250 identified toxins released from flaring including carcinogens such as benzopyrene, benzene, carbon disulphide (CS2), carbonyl sulphide (COS) and toluene; metals such as mercury, arsenic and chromium; sour gas with Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) and Sulfur Dioxide (SO2); Nitrogen oxides (NOx); Carbon dioxide (CO2); and methane (CH4) which contributes to the greenhouse gases .

Importantly, ExxonMobil’s EIA for the Yellowtail Project makes no mention of the foregoing.



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