Gas-to-Energy project will significantly lower harmful emissions

The Gas-to-Energy project, when constructed and operationalised will significantly reduce the emission of harmful gases into the atmosphere, thereby improving Guyana’s status as a good environmental steward.

This is the consensus shared among officials of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a report published by the Government of Guyana.

(L-R) EPA’s Senior Environmental Officer attached to the Technical Services programme, Tashanna Redmond and Senior Environmental Officer with oversight for Oil and Gas Department, Joel Gravesande

This is also supported by the experiences of countries which have in the past moved to produce and use natural gas for power generation purposes, as they transitioned from the more polluting heavy fuel oil (HFO) and/or diesel-based systems.

With Ghana’s experience, when the country brought gas from its Sankofa gas field to shore, carbon emissions fell by 1.6 million tonnes, according to the World Bank.

How would the situation play out in Guyana? DPI interviewed two of the EPA’s Senior Environmental Officers, Tashanna Redmond and Joel Gravesande on the matter.

Redmond, who is attached to the EPA’s Technical Services programme, which develops EPA guidelines and procedures said Guyana’s current fossil fuel consumption has serious environmental implications.

“Records dating back to the state of the environment report in 2016 would have indicated that the electricity sector, the power generation sector is a primary consumer of fossil fuel and subsequently, is a great emitter.

“It contributes significantly to the emission of greenhouse gas, particularly carbon dioxide. So, a move toward natural gas will mean that those emissions, though there will still be greenhouse gas emissions, it will be reduced.”

Redmond also noted that the need to bring gas to shore would be more pronounced as the demand for energy grows. She said Guyana is already seeing a steady growth in the use of energy.

“You look at our lifestyles now, compared to 10, 20 years ago. The average home, and this pandemic has definitely increased that, you go into the average home, there are several digital devices that need to be powered.

“Though they run on battery, eventually, that battery dies and has to be repowered. You’re home, you need fans. You’re home, you need to heat up food and all of these things. So, energy consumption is definitely on the increase.”

Gravesande, Senior Environmental Officer with oversight for the Oil and Gas department shares similar views. His department is responsible for authorising all upstream oil and gas projects and the gas-to-energy project.

He noted that there has been much contention about the flaring of natural gas and that if gas is brought to shore, there would be much less gas to flare, if the unfortunate situation is to recur.

Redmond said when Guyana brings gas to shore for its electricity needs, it will be a win because there will be a reduction in the use of more harmful fossil fuels. She explained that studies have shown that the use of natural gas results in fewer emissions of greenhouse gases.

Earlier this year, the Government of Guyana released a series of reports which it relies on in its decision-making for the heavily touted gas-to-energy project. One of those reports was compiled by the internationally recognised finance and engineering advisory firm, K&M Advisors.

K&M Advisors logo

In its assessment, K&M sought to answer a number of questions, one of those being: What are the estimated emission reductions and climate benefits of a new power plant?

The June 2019 final report quantified the emission reduction and climate change benefits which would result from the operationalisation of the gas-to-energy project under different scenarios.

ExxonMobil has agreed to bring 50 million standard cubic feet of gas per day to shore.

In this regard, K&M estimated that there would be a reduction of 6.1 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in a 12-year period. These are the gases which contribute directly to global warming.

K&M also estimated that contaminant emissions which affect air quality would be reduced by approximately 200,000 tonnes in the same period.

Within these parameters, the firm further stated that the estimated economic benefit due to the reduction in emissions for the same time period would be approximately US$150 million due to GHG reductions and approximately US$70 million due to contaminant reductions.

The Gas-to-Energy project was initiated by the PPP/C Government on the basis that it will bring these and other benefits to the country. The project is also expected to reduce the cost of power by 50 per cent, put more disposable income into the pockets of ordinary families and improve the ease of doing business.

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