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Geothermal energy excitement builds with suspicions, as drill rig arrives

By Bennette Roach

DSC_0496It’s a new milestone in the UK Government (through DFID) support for Montserrat’s move for green energy with Geothermal exploratory drilling set to begin towards the end of the month. Iceland Drilling Company (IDC) project director here on island, believes this to begin by February 20 – 25.

As the excitement builds meanwhile, seeking to make ‘geothermal’ a more than familiar word to the people of Montserrat, Premier although not the first to make the reference, says Geothermal could be a game changer for Montserrat.

He was speaking during a press briefing with the new European Union (EU) Ambassador to the Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Mikael Barfod, who in turn told of the EU’s support to Montserrat’s recovery effort since volcanic activity began in 1995, but as far as back as 1986.

A quiet chatter and accusations of a lack of transparency in the procuring of the contract to Iceland Drilling Company, and related works have clouded the geothermal project. Last weekend however as Director of Public Works, Ron Beardsley had announced, a ship laden with ‘drilling related materials’ arrived at port Plymouth amidst some confusion or disagreements as to Customs and Port authority workers’ involvement in the off-loading of the equipment. Some information said that was the drilling rig, while sources described the shipment as “correction equipment”. That some unofficial sources said was proof that something had gone wrong already with the contract arising out of poor if not incorrect tendering requirements.

Strong winds made docking difficult, when the Iceland ship Peter Ronna arrived reportedly from Iceland on the morning of Friday, Feb. 4. The docking eventually took place when local expertise sprang into action and offloading took place over the next two days.

Early today, Friday, Feb. 11 the ship returned from Dominica, this time laden reportedly with the drilling rig from Dominica that Premier Meade in December, 2011 had said that drilling operations should be timed, “so that at the back end of the Dominica drill operations that we can get that drill rig into Montserrat.”

The latest question being asked about drilling operations comes over the suspicions over the tender document and the contract signed by IDC for US$6.3 million which claims are being made that the sum has had to be increased to over US$8 million. Members of the seeming defunct Energy Committee who claim to have been side-lined since the approval of the funds totalling eight and a half (8.5) million pounds, are seeking to have access to the documents involved.

Two drilling rig platforms only yards apart have been completed in the Exclusion Zone at lower Weekes next to the Cork Hill main road ín preparation for the exploration and drilling the production wells. Following this, PWD and private workers have been engaged in leveling and compacting the sites around the wells and platform as well as simultaneously erecting the parameter fencing for security purposes.

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By Bennette Roach

DSC_0496It’s a new milestone in the UK Government (through DFID) support for Montserrat’s move for green energy with Geothermal exploratory drilling set to begin towards the end of the month. Iceland Drilling Company (IDC) project director here on island, believes this to begin by February 20 – 25.

As the excitement builds meanwhile, seeking to make ‘geothermal’ a more than familiar word to the people of Montserrat, Premier although not the first to make the reference, says Geothermal could be a game changer for Montserrat.

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He was speaking during a press briefing with the new European Union (EU) Ambassador to the Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Mikael Barfod, who in turn told of the EU’s support to Montserrat’s recovery effort since volcanic activity began in 1995, but as far as back as 1986.

A quiet chatter and accusations of a lack of transparency in the procuring of the contract to Iceland Drilling Company, and related works have clouded the geothermal project. Last weekend however as Director of Public Works, Ron Beardsley had announced, a ship laden with ‘drilling related materials’ arrived at port Plymouth amidst some confusion or disagreements as to Customs and Port authority workers’ involvement in the off-loading of the equipment. Some information said that was the drilling rig, while sources described the shipment as “correction equipment”. That some unofficial sources said was proof that something had gone wrong already with the contract arising out of poor if not incorrect tendering requirements.

Strong winds made docking difficult, when the Iceland ship Peter Ronna arrived reportedly from Iceland on the morning of Friday, Feb. 4. The docking eventually took place when local expertise sprang into action and offloading took place over the next two days.

Early today, Friday, Feb. 11 the ship returned from Dominica, this time laden reportedly with the drilling rig from Dominica that Premier Meade in December, 2011 had said that drilling operations should be timed, “so that at the back end of the Dominica drill operations that we can get that drill rig into Montserrat.”

The latest question being asked about drilling operations comes over the suspicions over the tender document and the contract signed by IDC for US$6.3 million which claims are being made that the sum has had to be increased to over US$8 million. Members of the seeming defunct Energy Committee who claim to have been side-lined since the approval of the funds totalling eight and a half (8.5) million pounds, are seeking to have access to the documents involved.

Two drilling rig platforms only yards apart have been completed in the Exclusion Zone at lower Weekes next to the Cork Hill main road ín preparation for the exploration and drilling the production wells. Following this, PWD and private workers have been engaged in leveling and compacting the sites around the wells and platform as well as simultaneously erecting the parameter fencing for security purposes.