Top officials at ExxonMobil Guyana are reiterating that stringent measures remain in place to prevent an oil spill at its Stabroek Block operations. Company officials say in the unlikely event there is an incident, a robust set of tools, including quick access to a capping stack which will be stationed in country next year, make an event the magnitude of the Macondo spill unlikely.
The Macondo spill occurred in 2010 in the US Gulf of Mexico and saw oil leaking from a deepwater well for 87 days. Nearly five million barrels of crude was released. This deepwater incident is exactly what led to the emergence of the capping stack technology. It can be installed on top of a surface wellhead or blowout preventer to stop the uncontrolled flow of fluids into the environment.
Routledge said, “We have subscriptions to capping stacks that can be mobilised and available on-site for deployment in five and a half days. We have also committed in the Yellowtail Licence to procure and have in country, a capping stack that will even shorten the response time and that will be here in 2024. On top of that, we have equipment and procedures for oil spill response such as oil booms…”
Routledge was also keen to stress that there are very clear conditions in the permits issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the company to take every precaution to prevent oil spills from happening. If they do, he assured that Exxon would not neglect its responsibilities.
“We put everything into preventing an incident happening in the first place… We have a lot of technologies that go into the design of the wells in particular and that is the highest risk scenario,” he said.
He also stressed that Exxon’s safety culture sees intense training of personnel in well-response being done continuously while reiterating that the co-venturers in the Stabroek Block have the wherewithal to cover their obligations related to an oil spill. Routledge noted that the partners have about US$21 billion for coverage of such incidents. That fiscal pool is projected to expand as more producing assets are activated in the Stabroek Block.