…but says COVID-19 travel restrictions could hamper drilling activity
EXXONMOBIL is continuing its operations, both on and offshore Guyana, with special health measures in place due to COVID-19, but current travel restrictions in place in Guyana and other key countries have impacted normal operations in the Stabroek Block.
Should the worldwide restrictions continue, the company has put in place plans to slow down drilling activities offshore Guyana.
“Efforts are being made to limit the disruption of the coronavirus, but given the global nature of our operations, travel restrictions have impacted our ability to move workers into Guyana and will impact our ability to maintain normal operations offshore. We are evaluating our staffing levels on our four drilling vessels and the Liza Destiny FPSO to determine next steps. We have made contingency plans to slow down drilling activities in the coming weeks, starting with exploration drilling, in the event sustained travel restrictions prevent us from carrying out these activities,” Public and Government Affairs Advisor at Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), Janelle Persaud told the newspaper on Tuesday.
There is currently no impact to production on the Liza Destiny, but, for the US oil giant, the safety of individuals working offshore and the protection of the environment remain priority.
Persaud said that ExxonMobil continues to monitor the coronavirus outbreak closely in keeping with guidance from relevant authorities. As protocol, the company is relying on its well-established processes in place to manage impacts related to infectious disease outbreaks.
“We are screening workers at the Ogle heliport before they are cleared to travel offshore to ensure they are not exhibiting symptoms of the virus and that they have not knowingly come into contact with anyone who has the virus. As a further precaution, medical personnel onboard our offshore facilities will continue to monitor the health of the workers and provide appropriate treatment and care. Onshore, most office employees are working remotely as we have instituted ‘social distancing’ protocols, except for employees working on operations-critical activities,” the Public and Government Affairs Advisor said.
Advisories have also been sent out to its personnel to reinforce general prevention measures to avoid becoming ill even as they work from home. Added to this, Exxon has temporarily suspended the construction activities for its local headquarters at the Ogle, East Coast Demerara location.
The contract was awarded to NABI/KCL Oilfield Construction Services Guyana back in April 2019. It is a Guyanese-led joint venture initiative between NABi Construction Inc. (Guyana) and Kee-Chanona Limited (Trinidad). Meanwhile, at the beginning of March, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that EEPGL had applied to undertake the Hammerhead Development Project, with facilities for petroleum production expected to last at least 20 years.
It marks the pursuit of Exxon’s fourth development project, with Liza Phase I and Liza Phase II already approved, and Payara awaiting approval. In keeping with the Environmental Protection Act No. 11, 1996, the EPA says, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for development must first be provided before any decision is made as the project could have significant impacts on the environment. Members of the public were invited from the day of the publication of the notice to make written submissions within 28 days highlighting any question and matters they require to be considered in the EIA.
The newspaper was unable to ascertain whether provisions have been, or will be, made for the extension of any deadlines which may be affected.