EPA grants Exxon another allowance to flare above pilot levels

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted ExxonMobil Guyana another allowance to flare above pilot levels at its Liza Phase 1 operations. Sharing these details is ExxonMobil Guyana’s Public and Government Affairs Advisor, Janelle Persaud.

In an interview with OilNOW on Wednesday, Ms Persaud said this allowance expires on July 24, 2021.

Meanwhile, Director of the EPA, Sharifah Razack, had indicated to OilNOW on Tuesday that the company had submitted another request on June 28 to flare above the pilot levels for another 36 days. She had also indicated that the agency was deliberating that said request and would convey its decision.

Persaud on Wednesday, however, confirmed that that flaring extension was granted.

Approval for flaring beyond 14 days was first granted to Exxon by the EPA on May 24, 2021.  The EPA had approved flaring activities for a period of 36 days (i.e. May 26 – June 30, 2021) at a rate of no more than 15 million standard cubic feet per day (mscfpd).

This is in keeping with the modified environmental permit, which aims to include more stringent regulatory requirements to address flaring in accordance with the EPA’s legislation. This modification was announced on May 18.

The revised environmental permit features modified terms and conditions relating to the emission reporting requirements, technical considerations for flaring, and timelines for flaring events. Additionally, it also contained an obligation on Exxon to pay for the emission of carbon dioxide equivalent as a result of flaring in excess of timelines for commissioning and start-up. That payment shall be made to the EPA within 28 days from the date of expiration and is calculated at the rate of US$30 per tonne of CO2e.

“Upon expiry of the current EPA approval,” Persaud told this publication that, “the calculation of the flaring CO2e payment due for that period will be finalized. As a continuous equipment reliability event, it is expected the payment obligation will continue to be applied for the new approval period.”

For those 36 days of flaring, Guyana’s Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, had said that Exxon will pay Guyana around US$1.3 million. During a media engagement in May, the Vice President stated that US$30 payment is globally competitive and that it is higher than what is charged in some developed countries. The EPA has maintained that EEPGL will not recover the US$30 payment.

As it relates to Exxon’s gas compressor, Persaud said on Wednesday that the upgraded and repaired discharge silencer of the third stage flash gas compressor and a new venturi were safely installed on the FPSO. During the first phase of testing, which was conducted earlier this week, Exxon was able to reduce flare to pilot level.

Further, Persaud stated that the second phase of testing will begin on July 4 and upon successful completion, the system is expected to continue into normal operation.

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