(Kaieteur News, 14.Aug.2020) — Even though it told the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that it would bring an end to flaring today, it appears that American oil giant, ExxonMobil, will be burning gas offshore Guyana for a few more weeks.
EPA Head, Dr. Vincent Adams had told this newspaper that he was given all assurances by ExxonMobil that it would cease flaring by August 10, last. Unable to meet this deadline, he said that the oil giant asked for an extension to today. But according to ExxonMobil’s Public and Government Affairs Advisor, Janelle Persaud, the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions have stymied the company’s efforts to stop flaring.
In an invited comment, Persaud said, “We have significantly reduced flaring as we safely progress commissioning of the gas compression systems on the Liza Destiny. Unfortunately, restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact our ability to bring key workers and equipment into the country, thereby slowing the progress of related activities.”
The ExxonMobil employee added, “We are currently limiting oil production and injecting or using more than 85 percent of the associated gas produced from the reservoir with two of the three gas handling systems online. Once the full system is commissioned, we will increase oil production to full capacity and only a pilot flare will remain for safety.”
Kaieteur News would have reported that the flaring by the oil giant via the Liza Destiny vessel was due to mechanical issues being experienced with the gas compressor system. The malfunctioning part has since been sent to Germany to be fixed.
The American multinational has been flaring since last year Christmas to now, bringing the total amount of gas flared well above 10 billion cubic feet. Until the gas compressor issue is addressed, Exxon will continue to flare over 12 million cubic feet of gas per day.
According to a special study conducted by the World Bank, flaring releases gases that are not only harmful to one’s health but also disastrous to the climate. According to the report that was perused by this newspaper, flaring releases more than 250 toxins including cancer causing agents such as benzopyrene, benzene, carbon disulphide (CS2), carbonyl sulphide (COS), and toluene. It also releases metals such as mercury, arsenic, and chromium and nitrogen oxides.
Another study that was conducted by the Suez University in Egypt agrees with the findings of the World Bank Group, while adding that flaring is a significant contributor of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.
When released into the atmosphere, these gases trap heat to a significant degree. The University’s Department of Petroleum and Chemical Engineering was keen to note that flaring is also considered to be extremely harmful to the environment since it releases methane which has about 25 times greater global warming potential than carbon dioxide.
Other pollutants such as sulfur oxides (SOx) and volatile organic components (VOC) are also released from flaring. These are considered major causes of acid rain and fog which harm the natural environment and human life. Taking these and other harmful environmental effects into consideration, nations such as Guyana are urged to limit and/or prohibit flaring.