EPA Issues Environmental Permit for the Payara Project

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on September, 24, 2020, issued an Environmental Permit valid for 5 years, to Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) for the Payara Development Project. Among its conditions, the Permit requires EEPGL to adhere to international standards for discharge of produced water and also limits the permitted duration of gas flaring. Moreover, the Permit requires that EEPGL conducts critical post-permit studies on reinjection of produced water, flaring, cradle-to-grave waste analysis and capping stack deployment. 

Specifically, the Permit allows for fines to be imposed for any flaring beyond a permitted duration. It also requires EEPGL to conduct flaring studies which will serve to inform the EPA in the setting of limits for flaring. Further, within three months of the issuance of the Permit the EPA will set fines for excess flaring.

Additionally, the Permit requires EEPGL to implement Cradle to Grave management of waste emanating from the Payara operation. To this end EEPGL is required to conduct a Cradle to Grave Waste Management Analysis on the basis of which it will revise the Payara Waste Management Plan for implementation throughout the lifetime of the project.

While holding EEPGL to international standards for wastewater discharge, the Permit also requests a study on the feasibility of reinjection of produced water. The findings of this study will inform Permit conditions in the future regarding produced water. 

The Permit also requires EEPGL to mobilize a Capping Stack to the Payara location within five days or less of an uncontrolled well event. To this end, EEPGL must complete the study within six months of the issuance of the Permit to inform Capping Stack deployment which study must be approved by the EPA.

The Environmental Permit was issued following the EPA’s approval on September, 18, 2020, of the 4th Revised Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which was submitted by EEPGL in July, 2019.  The EIA was reviewed by the Environmental Assessment Board (EAB) and by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). In making its decision to approve the EIA, the EPA took into consideration the recommendations of the EAB and BOEM, as well as, comments from the public.

The Payara Development Project is the third petroleum development project to have been permitted in the Stabroek Block. Payara will entail the drilling of some forty-five (45) injection and production wells and is expected to produce between 180,000-220,000 barrels of oil per day with production slated to commence in 2023.