Is Exxon venting raw gas into Guyana’s air?

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Dear Editor,

As are many informed Guyanese, I continue to be concerned by the manner in which Exxon Mobil is conducting operations in my country’s territory. The unacceptably numerous mechanical defects and failures, excuses, agreements-violations, and of course, ridiculously enormous amounts of flaring are all issues that are known to be factual. Editor, I am worried about all of those issues, the majority of which Exxon Mobil has admitted. However, another matter occurs to me about which I am even more concerned, worried, and most troubled.

Exxon Mobil, in my opinion, has demonstrated a pattern of behaviour that leaves much to be desired. Adding to the problem, is the PPP’s administration’s apparent reluctance to draw a line in the sand; apart from empty rhetoric, I am unaware of any concrete actions taken by the administration to curb Exxon’s apparent cavalier approach to operations. This brings me to the matter of greatest concern to me.

Venting is the process of releasing unwanted gas directly into the atmosphere without burning (flaring). Venting releases some 24 times the volume of gas as opposed to flaring that same quantity. Also, the experts say that vented gas contains some 35 per cent higher quantities of cancer-causing chemicals than flared gas. While vented gas is mostly comprised of the highly potent greenhouse gas methane, it also contains hazardous air pollutants such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and hexanes. Editor, venting is harder to detect than flaring since there is no visible flame and it can be done relatively secretively.

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Considering my stated opinions about Exxon’s apparent pattern of behaviour and the PPP’s administration’s response, or lack thereof, I seriously wonder if Exxon Mobil is venting as well as flaring. That being the case would ExxonMobil’s Country Manager, Mr. Alistair Routledge be willing to state unequivocally that his company has not been venting raw gas into Guyana’s air?

Sincerely,
Mark DaCosta



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