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ExxonMobil still awaiting Liza 2 environmental permit; EPA examining paperwork

ExxonMobil’s Stabroek Block concession offshore Guyana.

ExxonMobil’s  environmental permit for the Liza Phase 2 development project is yet to be approved by Guyana’s environmental watchdog as it scrutinises the oil giant’s permit application, official sources said.

An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the agency was not entirely satisfied with a number of conflicting statements in the voluminous document that was submitted to the EPA.

The company on Wednesday confirmed that it was awaiting the permit. “The Environmental Impact Assessment for Liza Phase 2 is approved. We are waiting for the environmental permit,” a company spokeswoman told Demerara Waves Online News.

Having been first submitted, rejected and then re-submitted in line with the EPA’s expectations, the official said a decision was not expected before mid-February. “The submission was below the expectations or requirements and it does not meet the standards,” the official told Demerara Waves Online News.

Asked what was delaying the permit, the company’s spokeswoman said, “We’re working with the EPA as it progresses through their process.”

Meanwhile, experts hired by the Ministry of the Presidency are said to be conducting still an independent assessment of the Liza Phase 2 well before granting the ExxonMobil-majority owned Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) the greenlight to begin preparation for commercial production from that reservoir.

The sources declined to provide details at this stage about what were the EPA’s objections in the application for the permit, but noted that there were issues about whether or not there would be flaring from the well and whether the consultants or ExxonMobil would be liable if there are any problems in the future.

ExxonMobil begins commercial oil production at the Liza Phase 1 well late this year or early 2020 at a rate of 120,000 barrels per day and a projected annual revenue of US$300 million per year.

ExxonMobil estimates that Liza Phase 2 will yield about 190,000 to 220,000 barrels of oil when production there begins in 2022.