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ExxonMobil blames equipment problems for resumption of gas flaring at Liza-1

ExxonMobil uses the Liza Destiny FPSO to develop Liza-1
ExxonMobil uses the Liza Destiny FPSO to develop Liza-1

The US super-major ExxonMobil has come under fire in Guyana for resuming associated gas flaring at higher levels at Liza-1, an offshore oilfield within the Stabroek block.

According to local press reports, ExxonMobil said in late January that it was once again burning off larger volumes of the gas extracted by the Liza Destiny, the floating production, storage and off-loading (FPSO) vessel it is using to develop the field. It did not divulge many details of the matter but said it had taken this action in light of equipment problems.

“There was a technical issue regarding a seal on the gas compressor on [the] Liza Destiny,” the company said in a statement. “This unfortunate incident resulted in us having to temporarily increase our flare above pilot levels in order to maintain safe operations.”

Alistair Routledge, the president of ExxonMobil Guyana, added: “We are disappointed that this unexpected issue has occurred, and we’re working diligently with the vessel’s owner and the equipment vendor to understand and fix the issue as quickly as possible.”

The announcement is something of an embarrassment for ExxonMobil, which said in late December that it had resolved all problems related to the leaky gas compressor seal. The company and its partners had burnt off more than 2bn cubic feet (56.64mn cubic metres) of associated gas last year.

Vickram Bharrat, Guyana’s Minister of Natural Resources, said last week that he had asked ExxonMobil to install a replacement seal as soon as possible. The company has pledged to resolve the matter as quickly as possible, he said.

Bharrat did not say when ExxonMobil expected to fix the problem.

Problems with gas compression and injection forced ExxonMobil to reduce oil output temporarily at Liza-1 last year. They also led the company to miss its deadline for bringing the field to its projected capacity of 120,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Liza-1, Guyana’s first producing oilfield, has been in production since December 2019. It is one of the 18 discoveries made at Stabroek to date. ExxonMobil has sanctioned development at three sections of the blocks: Liza-1; Liza-2, which is slated to begin production in 2022; and Payara, which will come on stream in 2024.