By Bibi Khatoon
ExxonMobil has come in for major criticisms over the flaring of excess gas offshore close to six months after production began and this can continue for several weeks until the company can fix its compressor system, Senior Director of Public Affairs Deedra Moe said Wednesday.
The system encountered some issues during a performance test last month and repairs were initially delayed in order to observe travel restrictions including quarantine of staff to protect offshore operations from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We do have one of our technicians’ specialist onboard and another person going through the screening process right now and so that is progressing…we can take a few more weeks, you know several weeks,” Moe said.
Flaring is done to get rid of unwanted gas to relieve pressure in the wells but it releases methane into the air which not only contributes directly to global warming but has a substantial impact on the environment and public health.
The U.S oil giant began to pump oil in December 2019 and was given approval to flare in the start-up period – a process which Moe said is “operationally necessary” – until the gas compression and injection systems are fully commissioned to re-inject the gas or a system is in place to bring it onshore.
Moe said this issue was unexpected.
“While we always anticipate some issues when you’re doing start-up – you’re commissioning a new system, new system – these particular issues were unexpected and we’re working to get the equipment repaired as quickly as possible.
“The current situation is a temporary, unplanned event related to project startup.”
The company has agreed to reduce flaring to no more than 15 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. As a result, its production has also decreased to between 25,000 and 30,000 bpd –pushing back the targeted production of 120,000 bpd by mid-June.
Guyana was expected to receive its third one million barrel of oil in July but with production cut, this timeline will be extended as it will take a longer period to reach the required amount.
Guyana had its first lift in February and its second lift in the third week of May.