Exxon wants EPA approval to flare above pilot level as it continues to test equipment

- Reinstalled gas compressor equipment safely installed, showing signs of success


ExxonMobil Guyana has applied to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approval to flare above pilot levels – 15 million cubic feet per day – on its oil production ship as it continues to test the repaired, upgraded and reinstalled equipment for its flash gas compressor system.

The company had previously applied for the allowance to flare due to problems with the system.

A statement from the company on Wednesday noted that the upgraded and repaired discharge silencer of the third stage flash gas compressor and a new venturi were safely installed on the Liza Destiny ship and the first phase of testing was successfully completed earlier this week.

Further, the statement noted that the flash gas compression system was started up on June 19 for the first testing phase and was shut down on June 28th in order to remove temporary probes and instrumentation.

During the first testing phase, the company was able to reduce the flare to pilot level. And, Persaud said that initial test results indicate improvements in pulsation dampening performance.

This flash gas compressor system is aboard the Liza Destiny Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel operating in the Stabroek Block, offshore Guyana. The flash gas compressor malfunctioned in January, resulting in ExxonMobil’s increase in natural gas flaring above pilot levels to maintain safe operations.

Previously, the faulty flash gas compressor was removed and sent abroad for repairs. In an update to members of the media in May, Persaud related that repairs and upgrades to the third-stage discharge silencer were ongoing.

The damaged gas compressor was reinstalled in April but it was subsequently discovered that there was another problem with the discharge silencer. As a result, the oil company significantly reduced its production to just 30,000 barrels. Operations had ramped up back subsequently.

This silencer is a key component of the flash gas compression system. In the update provided in May, Persaud said that repairs were reportedly being progressed by MAN Energy Solutions, the equipment’s manufacturer, at a facility in Houston, Texas.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, ExxonMobil said that the second phase of testing will begin on July 4.  Once this testing is successfully completed, she said that ExxonMobil expects the system to continue into normal operation.

“To ensure we remain in compliance with our environmental permit, we have applied to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approval to flare above pilot level for this extended period of equipment testing,” the statement noted.

According to the company, a new redesigned flash gas compressor is being manufactured and is expected to arrive in the country during the fourth quarter of this year.

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