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By Darshanand Khusial

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. Mar. 2, 2023: On Wednesday, February 15th, 2023 the Esso Guyana Media Relations Advisor, Kwesi Isles, stated that the increase of Liza 1 and Liza 2 projects’ combined output to 400,000 barrels per day was safe. This appears to be the second time in less than a year that an Esso Guyana representative has issued highly questionable statements about the safety of Liza 1 production.  

For the last several months, Liza 1 has been operating at about 150,000 barrels per day as per the government website. However, the Liza-1 Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), states on page 28, “a design rate of 100,000 barrels of oil per day (BOPD), with potential to safely operate at sustained peaks of up to approximately 120,000 BOPD.”    

How can operating 50% above the design rate of Liza 1 be safe? Imagine if you load a plane 50% above its cargo capacity, surely you won’t get on such a plane. Then why is it acceptable for Exxon to risk a major oil spill which would result in the bankruptcy of Guyana and other Caribbean nations by significantly exceeding the approved design capacity for its oil projects? The Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010 was estimated to cost US$145 billion. Guyana has earned only a couple of billion of US dollars from its oil production. A tiny fraction of what a major oil spill would cost. 

On Saturday August 6th, 2022 the Communications Manager of Esso Exploration wrote a letter that appeared in the major Guyanese newspapers in which she stated, “Production rates on the Liza facilities are maintained within safe operating limits at all times.” This was when Liza 1 facilities were producing about 140,000 barrels a day. That is 40% above the design rate of Liza 1. 

It is disturbing that Esso Guyana keeps using the Guyanese media to promote a highly questionable narrative about the safety of the oil production in the Stabroek Oil Block.  

Mr Isles claims, “Safety is a core value of ExxonMobil operations. We do not compromise safety standards to improve profits.” These sound like hollow words by Esso Guyana given that the legally required parent company guarantee to cover an oil spill in Guyana’s Stabroek Oil Block has not been signed. Liza 1 began oil production about 3 years ago, if ExxonMobil is confident in the safety of its oil operations in Guyana then why are a few strokes of the pen taking this long? You can learn more here.  

EDITOR’S NOTE: Darshanand Khusial is an executive OGGN

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