for proof of the resource by June
by Bennette Roach :
Geothermal is on the lips of many and now the news is that “excitement and great anticipation is building on Montserrat as the island gets ready to explore its geothermal potential, scheduled to begin in earnest in February.”
With the UK Government in December, 2011 promising to make available to the people of Montserrat fulfilled by an agreement to provide 8.5 million pounds for Geothermal Exploration in Montserrat, this became reality early in 2012.
Very soon after, a government appointed Energy Committee was basically disbanded or left out in the cold, with PWD Director Ron Beardsley, Energy Committee chairman, and Kato Kimbugwe DFID’s on island representative carrying on the processes. This is according to members of the Committee for the Redevelopment of Montserrat (CRM) who were represented on the Committee, claiming they were denied access to documents and the process to further the exploration development.
The road here has been punctured with some confusion in the processed, which is seeing charges of missteps and even unfairness, especially involving the tender and procurement of some of the services for fulfilling the project.
There are questions surrounding the fact reported in October last year that “IDC (Iceland Drilling Company Ltd.) was the only company to submit a bid to drill for geothermal on island.” The company was granted a conditional letter of award on September 27, 2012. Since then the contract works were completed in early October with the official signing taking place on October 16, 2012.”
The questions surround the advertising of the tender for the drilling which was done according to the stipulations included in the terms of the 8.5 million pounds Agreement. How did the Premier’s statement in December 2011 impact this? is now the question heard frequently.
The Premier then complained, ‘unfairly’, that not enough was being ‘reported’ about “the agreement in principal for the geothermal exploration”. “…here are some steps we want you to take before we finally agree the funds. Dominica should be having a rig coming into Dominica, and what we’re trying to do is to time the preparations so that at the back end of the Dominica drill operations that we can get that drill rig into Montserrat…” he said.
Following the signing of the contract in October last year with IDC, the only bidder at a sum of US$6.3 million, one that some officials in Montserrat say was more than the US$4.08 million for a production well to a depth of 5,000 feet. Included in that proposal was a cost for carrying out directional drilling if required. This was suggested by another company even before the funds agreement early last year. The confusion and the worry expressed by those who had put the whole geothermal in train, is that if the drilling facility does not facilitate directional drilling and is only vertical, the cost to correct would outdo the project funds, and be a complete waste and serious setback.
It is reported that the tender specification documents have been held secret by Ministry of Coms and Works and provided only to persons with proven interest in geothermal exploration. Concerns rose that the tender document did not include directional drilling which IDC was not required to do in Dominica, but became necessary for Montserrat because this was included in the EGS report that informed the drilling exploration tender. EGS of California had reported there was an 80% likelihood of geothermal energy on Montserrat.
Beardsley last week explaining The IDC is now all set to begin the exploration and are set to deliver their equipment at Port Plymouth next week to carry out the work to prove the energy resource which Montserrat is hoping will prove a reality. Preparations to facilitate the off-loading of the drilling equipment at Port Plymouth came in for some criticism by contractors who complained that giving only ten days to tender for dredging in Plymouth was designed for only one contractor to tender and get the job, which ended up being almost the case.
The director Beardsley, in a reported interview with ZJB news dismisses the reports as misinformation and said everything is on government website and everything done, in accordance with government procurement rules.” He said further, “we received two tenders for the project…one was allot more expensive than we were expecting, the other one was round about the right price.”
The drilling and testing phases are expected expected to begin in earnest in mid February and take three to four months. IDC is expected to drill two wells down to a depth of 5000 feet in zone C, between Weekes village and Garibaldi Hill. All of the areas, including the drilling platforms and the water tanks as well as other holding areas have been constructed.
The developments of alternate energy and this renewable resource have been discussed and planned for several years and is proven would go a long way towards reducing the high cost of electricity Montserrat. It is expected to provide cheaper electricity for Montserrat and in the meantime generate a wide variety of jobs. source for Montserrat.
Since December, 2011 Premier Meade had informed that, “the initial investment would be for a two to four megawatt facility, dependant on what is available,…” adding, “we’re hoping that we can then move that forward into a 50 megawatt facility which we hope that the private sector will move it for them to deal with export potential.”
Photos: drilling platform in Cork Hill