ExxonMobil says it is taking very seriously the issues that have been encountered on its first oil production vessel offshore Guyana with the gas compressor system and this is resulting in the implementation of new technology and measures to avoid a recurrence of prolonged flaring above pilot levels.
Speaking at virtual public disclosure meeting last week on the Yellowtail Development Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report, Steve Laws, ExxonMobil Guyana Project Manager, said the company continues to learn from project to project and is taking the necessary steps to ensure the environmental impact of its offshore activities is minimized.
“The Yellowtail specifically; we do have spare compression installed on the FPSO. If one of those compressors goes down for some fault, then you can switch over to the next compressor which you’ve got 100% redundancy. So, we continue to learn from project to project and Yellowtail has that one there,” Laws said.
The Exxon representative also said other measures are being implemented to capture small amounts of gas so that this can be reinjected into the reservoir.
“We also have other technology included – vapour recovery units – to take off small amounts of gas. Instead of them going to the flare they get captured and then put back into the system and reinjected. So, we’ve put extra technology and spent the extra money to do that on Yellowtail,” he stated.
Issues with the flash gas compressor on the Liza Destiny FPSO had resulted in a disruption to the gas reinjection process that is used in the oil production operations, thereby reducing the volume of associated gas being reinjected into the reservoir. This resulted in faring above pilot levels for several months, ultimately leading to Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implementing a payment for gas flared.
As of September 2021, the EPA had collected approximately GY$400M in payments from ExxonMobil for flaring. Head of the agency, Kemraj Parsram, had said the flaring payment was increased to US$45 per tonne of CO2e [from the initial US$30] to serve as an incentive to ensure compliance.
“The EPA and by extension, the government’s policy is zero routine flaring. Flaring is only permitted in circumstances where it is necessary to ensure safety and in cases of emergencies,” Parsram said at the time.
Exxon has since carried out repairs to the faulty compressor and said a new system will be in place on the Liza Destiny FPSO before the end of the year.