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Geothermal (Game Changer?) update from February 2013

Well #1 steaming in test phase

Well #1 steaming in test phase

Geothermal energy excitement builds with suspicions, as drill rig arrives

Posted on 08 February 2013.

“A Game Changer” – Premier

By Bennette Roach

It’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.

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.

Geothermal drilling not yet underway after a failed start

Posted on 08 March 2013.

By Bennette Roach

The Montserrat Reporter reported at press time prematurely in anticipation that geothermal drilling was due to start last week Wednesday night. The drilling was scheduled to begin began at seven o’clock on Wednesday, February 23 as announced the day before at the blessing and opening of the drilling at the bottom of Weekes near the Cork Hill main road.

It was TMR’s press night but on invitation we had travelled to Cork Hill, that was the intention, to witness the start of the drilling. On arrival at the gate, we found it closed and after unsuccessful enquires were forced to vacate the privilege, after being given strange and unusual directives as to who to contact to get the gate open.. We would not learn until the following day, too late for the press, that the engines never started and the drilling did not begin.

Director of Public Works in a report to ZJB news eventually confirmed that the rig which came from Dominica where it had been parked up for a number of months… “they found a number of issues. Some of the cables have been chewed by vermin, which should be replaced. The computer system that drives the rig failed…”

Sources said that the problems may be more than has been advertised, but Beardsley reported that parts had to be sourced from Iceland and that they had a potential new start date of March 6. (Beardsley addreses delay)

Geothermal drilling, hoping for Well #1

Posted on 26 April 2013.

Within hours of speaking to directors at the first geothermal drilling site in Cork Hill came the news that the resource could be close to expectation, or just hope!

Roger Almond and George Fie had told The Montserrat Reporter accompanied by a couple members of  CRM (Committee for the Redevelopment of Montserrat) at 7.30 a.m. that in a few more hundred feet they would have reached the end of the Icelandic rig’s drilling capacity, however they were already feeling 300° F temperature and in the process of tests. That was good news and hopeful information.

However, this created some nervous concerns that should nothing better was encountered, the process might have to be shelved and a new rig imported. These concerns were immediately conveyed to the Premier who was due to have a meeting with the Public Works Director, Ron Beardsley. Among the immediate concerns, the CRM members led by the chairman, presented. “Drill depth currently achieved is 2000m (6150ft).  IDC can only drill another 400-500ft more, so drilling will stop in the next 2-3 days because the drill rig lacks the power to drill any deeper.  This can mean no water, no steam, no pressure, thus no geothermal power!”

The confirmation note to the Premier as to the earlier meeting continued: “…The reason, (problem) we should have had a rig with 1000hp (and not the existing 550hp) with the 200,000lbs lifting power, and most important multidirectional drilling capability which the present rig does not have and the EGS final report recommended.“

The recommendation included, “Firstly, enter into negotiations with IDC for a larger rig as specified by EGS, or cancel the contract and retender again.  We are sure that IDC will be interested in providing what Government requires, in order that we do not lose continuity and the cost of the present well.  In the final analysis, it will simply be changing one rig for what we should have had in the first place.”

The (PWD) director (Ministry of Comms and Works) when contacted and asked how the drilling was progressing, first of all said that at the moment (Thursday, there was an equipment breakdown, that may require the importation of spares). Beardsley said that as of Thursday a.m., the drilling had gone down 2,298 meters. “The plan was to go down 2,000 meters…We will continue to go down far as 2400 meters,” he countered. BR speaks to Ron Beardsley – geothermal update

He said that there was some excitement and that things were fairly stable, as they were losing water at, ”… a maximum of 160 gallons a minute of water loss, it’s major, we’d like to see bigger loss than that.”

He told TMR much the same as was told to us by the experts at the site on Wednesday and revealed that the geophysicist is due in on the weekend, bringing, “…some very sensitive instruments with them, that can test the pressure and temperatures down the well.”

He added the instruments will check the temperature profile as it goes down the well and show where the hottest point is. “…however the profile goes, if that shows, we have already past the hottest point in the well and start to cool off slightly, then there would be little point drilling down any deeper…” he said, hinting that this could well be the news at this point, which some ‘experts’ have determined, suggest this will mean that Well #1 is in sight. He concluded that if the profile shows (the temperature continues to rise, the drilling would continue to 2,400 meters.”

He also said that regarding mechanical breakdown at the plant, “the engineers are currently assessing that to see how bad it is – it sounds like we’re going to have to get some parts to get it up and running again,” which from positive hopes and unconfirmed accounts will be in time to set up the rig for Well #2.

Geothermal resource confirme, Well Completed…resource to be tested

Posted on 17 May 2013.

by Bennette Roach

“The well is now fully secured” is the latest exciting news as hopes for the sourcing of geothermal energy became reality and preparations are very much underway for drilling a second Well at the other site nearer to the unoccupied Cork Hill village.

Official reports following our story of April 26, 2013,  (http://www.themontserratreporter.com/geothermal-drilling-hoping-for-well-1/ ) which said that “the resource could be close to expectation, or just hope,” now say after tests, “The results were very encouraging and it was unanimously agreed to stop drilling and to line the production area of the well. A 7″ steel, perforated, liner pipe was installed from 1,111M down to the bottom of the well (2,298m).

Senior Geologist Paul Brophy was due on island, bringing “…some very sensitive instruments with them, that can test the pressure and temperatures down the well.”

PWD director, Ron Beardsley now also reports the geothermal Well, referenced as ‘Mon-01’. He confirms that between last Saturday and Sunday geophysicist Thorstein Egilson using specialist measuring tools surveyed temperature and pressure in the #1 Well. Egilson’s report was studied by GoM Geothermal Adviser Mike Allen, Senior Geologist Paul Brophy, Senior Geophysicist Graham Ryan and Geothermal Drilling Project Manager George Scheid.

To come at the Well is, “testing the capacity of the well to generate geothermal energy.”

Beardsley confirmed to TMR, “We did the testing to temperature and pressure, and based on those results it was agreed that we will line the well as it is, there is no need to try drilling any deeper…” adding, “we now leave it for roughly a month to stabilize …once that time expires we will then do a flow test on the well and that’s really what will tell us what resource we have.”

Mon-01 Well capped

The PWD director also confirmed that the repairs of broken down equipment were completed before the latest tests and that while not getting hot water as desired it was satisfactory with the other signs. “What we’ve always had is decent temperature so we were less concerned about getting a hot well…So at that point, we know we have temperature and we know we have fractures in the rock,…” responding that they had to repair to be able to pull out of the first well.

But there are sceptics, so TMR asked on their behalf, what would happen a month from now “…what happens if your flow test fails, what will happen to the first well?” Beardsley responded: “If we, at the end of one month, we’re not getting the flow through into each of the well that we’d expect, so that we’re not under heavy pressure, then there are things that we can do to stimulate the well and encourage it to start flowing,” adding somewhat dismissively, “But the expectation is that, that will be the case anyway.”

Immediately after the testing had been reported, confirmed and accepted, the Iceland Drilling Company (IDC) who is executing the drilling work since February 2013, began the dismantling of the site and moved everything to the second well referenced “Mon-02″ in preparation for drilling. As of today (May 17), our pics show the Well head at the now almost vacated first site and final clearings being carried out, along with the rig being set up at the #2 site.

This report comes nine days after Director of Public Works, Ron Beardsley announced that drilling to prove geothermal resource on Montserrat began. That commencement was delayed and postponed when the engine failed to function.

Roger Almond confirmed, “The engine was the problem, everything’s running really well,” he said, adding that, while the engine is not brand new that was better because brand new need time to “break-in”.

“We started nine days ago, we’re good,” Almond told The Montserrat Reporter on Tuesday this week. “

He added,  “we are in the second stage and we’re getting ready to put the casings in the ground..”

“We have already put in the bigger casing earlier last week and now we’re putting another section of the casing so all this is going in,” he explained.

Almond reported that they have reached about 300 meters. “I figure we’re down 300meters down to a possible 2250….,” he said.

He reported also that they have not encountered any difficulties and no excess temperatures adding, “we’re waiting for that, but we don’t want them yet,” noting, “we want ‘em in a deeper section,” reiterating, “but right now everything is going well.”

He further reassured that the drilling is good, and “the drills are working good.”

Roger Almond

Almond is a member of the firm Capuano Engineering out of California who are supervising the drilling operations on behalf of Montserrat. There are four of them. They take spells, two at a time, “at least two of us at any given time,” as Almond, the leadsman noted to us.

He gave a further insight to the process of the drilling. He said that it is believed that they are drilling right over the reservoir. “We’re looking for the temperature to increase and we’re looking for influx … maybe we’ll see a formation that shows this is the reservoir, that’s what the geologist is looking for….”

Ron Beardsley ,” confirming Almonds description a week ago, stated: “Drilling will now be almost continuous until we find the resource or go down to a maximum depth of two kilometers also as they’re drilling down; they drill to a certain depth and then they withdraw the drill and they put in the steel casing.

The drilling was scheduled to start on February 23, but eventually kicked into action at noon on March 17.

The 8.5 million pounds UK Government funded drilling project exploration phase is estimated to last forty (40) to sixty (60) days.

Well #2 drilling completed

Posted on 26 July 2013.

Geothermal Testing to run until October

By Bennette Roach

Reports on drilling for geothermal resource are that drilling at Well #2 for is complete. What is left is testing, and answers to the questions. ‘Is the resource really there, was the drilling adequate, was this a waste of money to date?”

Three weeks ago in the July 5, 2013 issue we headlined, “Hopes, Doubts and questions shroud geothermal resource exploration”, noting that Director of Public Works, Ron Beardsley who had been reporting on the progress of the drilling project for geothermal resource in the Cork Hill/Weekes area, citing, ‘very good news’ as he reports that the temperature at the geothermal site in the Cork Hill/Weekes area at Well #1has increased to 219.5°C.”

(see: http://www.themontserratreporter.com/hopes-doubts-and-questions-shroud-geothermal-resource-exploration/)

We reported also that the project had been plagued resulting from equipment and procurement problems. Members of the CRM group, who can be credited to have insisted that Government of Montserrat (GoM) and the people, should own everything to do with the geothermal development. This, resulted in the UK Government’s support. The group have long questioned the drilling capacity of the Iceland Drilling rig, which has the capability of going down a depth of only 2,400 meters (approximately 7,872 ft.

Since that report we learnt that the drilling rig at well #2 had suffered another equipment breakdown, but this quickly remedied, and drilling had recommenced on July 10, the same day DFID’s Dr. Kato Kimbugwe was responding to the media on various matters surrounding the geothermal development.

One answer dealt with how DFID would proceed with the production development progress, following a successful resource exploration, which he said ‘there is confidence that the resource is there in Well #1.

Kimbugwe said, “I think the way we’ve dealt with geothermal sets the tone for all the other SGP (Strategic growth plan), investments in that at every stage we will test the market to make sure that there is no private sector interest before any sort of UK funding is provided for geothermal.”

Earlier, Premier Meade had addressed that subject at a press briefing as follows: “…the understanding that the GoM is putting forward is, let us as a people own that resource , let’s develop it and own it. Let us not go to the private sector to seek funding for the development of the production side of things once we can get to the production phase…we have MUL as a power company which is wholly owned by the government of Montserrat, then let us deal with the development where MUL will take it forward…”

There was also the stated position of the Montserrat Geothermal Power Company (MGPC)  group that said a month ago at a press briefing on June 28, “MGPC WILL on behalf of the people of Montserrat, provide a bid for the geothermal power complex in response to an Expression of Interest (EoI) or any other legally authorised tender.”

While all this happening and with drilling continuing at Well #2, and testing at #1, Dr. Kimbugwe told the media that testing will run through to October. “The next phase really after the current drilling is the testing phase which is expected to be completed sometime around October,” he said.

Drilling began on or about February 22, this year, with drilling and testing (of the resource) expected to last six months (four and two months respectively).

Beardsley had said at the beginning of this month, confirming previous statements as to testing, “…we can start pulling it (water) out…and then we can do our long-term testing from that point,” he said.

Our information provided, “reports about the geothermal exploration from the drilling had indicated that the geothermal resource was definite, but its power had to be ascertained and testings were being done for verification.”  That information was from the moment Well #1 had been capped. Further information had indicated testing would last for about two months.

In that earlier story we also reported that officials from the Government overseers of the project had said: “There must be temperature, pressure and flow, tested for a minimum of two months to “prove” the resource.” Beardsley confirmed that later, but referred to it as, “our long-term testing.”

Well #2 – drilling completed

Meanwhile reliable Reports earlier in the week now say that drilling at Well #2 is complete, although today a Ministry of Communication & Works official, would only say that a statement is forthcoming in the coming week. Also unofficial is the news that while it was thought that Well #2 would have produced more positive existence of the resource, the only better news is that the temperature from the well is better than that of Well #1 when drilling had ceased.

Geothermal Unit and Steering Committee

That news is supposed to be good or better news, but although unofficial it did not change the doubts and fears that exist or surround the geothermal project. What keeps surfacing is that with a rig that can only reach straight down less than 2400 meters, the most encouraging information after Well #1 as we await the findings on Well #2, is, “they are confident the resource is there”. The following further statement by Kimbugwe in his response when he said, “…So once that have been proven in terms of whether you have a resource or not and the size of that resource,” once again cast doubt and uncertainty on the other statement of ‘confidence’.

Questions also surface on the management of the project, who speaks for it, who reports on it and to whom. According to project documents there was to be a “Geothermal Unit” which had to be in place prior to June 2012.  The DFID rep was unable to name the entire Geothermal Unit, but said it was in place.

“Yes, you do have a geothermal unit. The geothermal unit is based in the Ministry of Communications and Works,” he responded, giving the names of two persons and two agencies, the other two he was unable to name, one of whom was to be an engineer.

That unit was, accordingly as the project dictated: “GoM will staff a new Geothermal Unit responsible for overall project management, procurement processes including evaluation of tenders and presentation to the GoM Central Tenders Board,. This Unit will report on all matters related to the drilling contract.

“The key positions in this unit will be:

1. Geothermal Project Manager – Contracted in for preparation, drilling and testing.

2. “Company Man” – Contracted in for the drilling operation which requires 24/7 cover (3 people on rotation.) 3. Civil Engineer (GoM local recruit) 4. Well Test Engineer (contracted)

5. Administrative and accountancy staff (GoM local recruit.) 6. Montserrat Volcano Observatory Staff – contracted for extra safety cover at unloading/loading.”

The dedicated Geothermal Unit was to, “be established to lead and oversee a successful drilling operation leading to the proving of a geothermal resource, on time and within budget.

“…to keep an accurate track of progress and expenditure, and use this to keep amending the programme as required and rolling forecasts out on a monthly basis…”

Besides this, GoM was to establish a Steering Committee for the geothermal exploratory drilling operation, to monitor progress and hold the geothermal unit to account. “This will be made up of : Financial Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development MCWL/PWD and DFID.

Geothermal Resource best news

Posted on 06 September 2013.

by Bennette Roach

…The settling of a long outstanding issue of Government’s (GoM) to the Social Security Board, the value for money conditional support for development of Little Bay and Carrs Bay, assuring that Montserrat can sign the treaty which establishes the OECS Economic Union. Moreover, the best as far as the economic future of Montserrat was perceived, news of support for the beginning of exploration and development of ‘geothermal energy’.

Twenty months later, UK’s £8.5 million input (the initial cost of Gerald’s airport) it appears that the investment to support production well drilling for geothermal energy is on the verge of becoming what both UK DFID and the Premier Reuben T. Meade described as an “economic game changer” for Montserrat.

The Best News

And after misdirection, stuttering, stumbles, silence and accusations, the news broke on Wednesday that there was a noisy sound as steam hissed from a tank at the Well #1 site. Upon enquiry it was not to undo the good news, but one observer familiar with how it ought to sound to bring it to the stage of commercial viability, said, “I hope that the well is mostly capped and that this is just minor venting.” The explanation, “An Icelandic production well venting makes an enormous steam cloud and roars like a dragon!” Brings to mind the sounds when the steam pushed its way out at Soufriere Hills that July 18 night.

First information said that it would not be known before a few more days, “that the well is pretty productive…”

Cautioning against over-optimistic expectations, a source explained:  “They have pumped so much water into the well and at the moment it’s coming back out again.  What they want to find out is when the water stop coming out and it becomes the water which is being generated from underground and it’s starting to come up…” still hoping for even better news.

The temperature of the water at the surface has been increasingly and last reported at 298ºC, converts to approximately 568.4 ºF, from 290 ºC overnight. Director of Public Works Ron Beardsley speaking officially on the matter said that tests at the base of the well earlier read 235 ºC.

This good news comes after several weeks of coaxing and searching with the belief that the resource was there, while the wait as expressed above will be to determine the capacity of the resource.

The good news is that the report is, “it looks very favorable.” That is the best news to date. ZJB Radio calls it a, “major breakthrough in geothermal exploration in Montserrat.”

He confirms our source as he follows up, intending not to be over confident, “It is still too early to confidently say that we have a commercially viable well. However,” he said, “The signs are very encouraging.”

The Director who, naturally serves on the Geothermal Unit says, the intention is, “to let it continue to flow for a few days to monitor temperature and pressure.”

In this statement, Beardsley says, that the next step will be to carry out specialist long-term testing.  This will be carried out over several weeks and will determine the chemical composition of the geothermal fluids, as well as the temperature and pressure from the resource.  This critical data will inform the design of the most cost-effective generation plant for our location.  It will also give an estimate of the long term capacity of the resource.  The long term testing will be carried out over the next couple of months.

But the next question. What about Well #2? Can they just do the same and hope? The project managers sensing they need to take action as reported last week had sought to improve on the drilling to date, being carried out by the Icelandic Drilling Company Ltd.

Beardsley reported that the rig “has now been repaired and the drilling team resumed operations last night (Wednesday night).”

He said the Well would be cleaned out and lined down to its current depth of 2347 meters.  That the intention is to carry on drilling a little deeper to provide further geological data.  He concludes, “The drilling operation on Montserrat should be fully completed within the next two weeks.”

While all the news sounds great there is still some nervousness of the unknown possible result, that the activity to be carried out at Well #2. “I don’t know what’s the difference going down to 3,000 meters might make!” our source said nervously.

He explained, “Well, because it may not make any difference at all. It is possible to go pass the heat source – for the temperature to decrease. It doesn’t have to increase.” The suggestion is, that while being near to the resource it can be in any direction away from the hole.

That however, everyone agrees, is that there is great news. Everything seems set for potentially greater news by the end of October.

Next report – December 13 issue – page 3 – Slow geothermal progress (and reports) leave doubt

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Well #1 steaming in test phase

Well #1 steaming in test phase

Geothermal energy excitement builds with suspicions, as drill rig arrives

Posted on 08 February 2013.

“A Game Changer” – Premier

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By Bennette Roach

It’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.

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.

Geothermal drilling not yet underway after a failed start

Posted on 08 March 2013.

By Bennette Roach

The Montserrat Reporter reported at press time prematurely in anticipation that geothermal drilling was due to start last week Wednesday night. The drilling was scheduled to begin began at seven o’clock on Wednesday, February 23 as announced the day before at the blessing and opening of the drilling at the bottom of Weekes near the Cork Hill main road.

It was TMR’s press night but on invitation we had travelled to Cork Hill, that was the intention, to witness the start of the drilling. On arrival at the gate, we found it closed and after unsuccessful enquires were forced to vacate the privilege, after being given strange and unusual directives as to who to contact to get the gate open.. We would not learn until the following day, too late for the press, that the engines never started and the drilling did not begin.

Director of Public Works in a report to ZJB news eventually confirmed that the rig which came from Dominica where it had been parked up for a number of months… “they found a number of issues. Some of the cables have been chewed by vermin, which should be replaced. The computer system that drives the rig failed…”

Sources said that the problems may be more than has been advertised, but Beardsley reported that parts had to be sourced from Iceland and that they had a potential new start date of March 6. (Beardsley addreses delay)

Geothermal drilling, hoping for Well #1

Posted on 26 April 2013.

Within hours of speaking to directors at the first geothermal drilling site in Cork Hill came the news that the resource could be close to expectation, or just hope!

Roger Almond and George Fie had told The Montserrat Reporter accompanied by a couple members of  CRM (Committee for the Redevelopment of Montserrat) at 7.30 a.m. that in a few more hundred feet they would have reached the end of the Icelandic rig’s drilling capacity, however they were already feeling 300° F temperature and in the process of tests. That was good news and hopeful information.

However, this created some nervous concerns that should nothing better was encountered, the process might have to be shelved and a new rig imported. These concerns were immediately conveyed to the Premier who was due to have a meeting with the Public Works Director, Ron Beardsley. Among the immediate concerns, the CRM members led by the chairman, presented. “Drill depth currently achieved is 2000m (6150ft).  IDC can only drill another 400-500ft more, so drilling will stop in the next 2-3 days because the drill rig lacks the power to drill any deeper.  This can mean no water, no steam, no pressure, thus no geothermal power!”

The confirmation note to the Premier as to the earlier meeting continued: “…The reason, (problem) we should have had a rig with 1000hp (and not the existing 550hp) with the 200,000lbs lifting power, and most important multidirectional drilling capability which the present rig does not have and the EGS final report recommended.“

The recommendation included, “Firstly, enter into negotiations with IDC for a larger rig as specified by EGS, or cancel the contract and retender again.  We are sure that IDC will be interested in providing what Government requires, in order that we do not lose continuity and the cost of the present well.  In the final analysis, it will simply be changing one rig for what we should have had in the first place.”

The (PWD) director (Ministry of Comms and Works) when contacted and asked how the drilling was progressing, first of all said that at the moment (Thursday, there was an equipment breakdown, that may require the importation of spares). Beardsley said that as of Thursday a.m., the drilling had gone down 2,298 meters. “The plan was to go down 2,000 meters…We will continue to go down far as 2400 meters,” he countered. BR speaks to Ron Beardsley – geothermal update

He said that there was some excitement and that things were fairly stable, as they were losing water at, ”… a maximum of 160 gallons a minute of water loss, it’s major, we’d like to see bigger loss than that.”

He told TMR much the same as was told to us by the experts at the site on Wednesday and revealed that the geophysicist is due in on the weekend, bringing, “…some very sensitive instruments with them, that can test the pressure and temperatures down the well.”

He added the instruments will check the temperature profile as it goes down the well and show where the hottest point is. “…however the profile goes, if that shows, we have already past the hottest point in the well and start to cool off slightly, then there would be little point drilling down any deeper…” he said, hinting that this could well be the news at this point, which some ‘experts’ have determined, suggest this will mean that Well #1 is in sight. He concluded that if the profile shows (the temperature continues to rise, the drilling would continue to 2,400 meters.”

He also said that regarding mechanical breakdown at the plant, “the engineers are currently assessing that to see how bad it is – it sounds like we’re going to have to get some parts to get it up and running again,” which from positive hopes and unconfirmed accounts will be in time to set up the rig for Well #2.

Geothermal resource confirme, Well Completed…resource to be tested

Posted on 17 May 2013.

by Bennette Roach

“The well is now fully secured” is the latest exciting news as hopes for the sourcing of geothermal energy became reality and preparations are very much underway for drilling a second Well at the other site nearer to the unoccupied Cork Hill village.

Official reports following our story of April 26, 2013,  (http://www.themontserratreporter.com/geothermal-drilling-hoping-for-well-1/ ) which said that “the resource could be close to expectation, or just hope,” now say after tests, “The results were very encouraging and it was unanimously agreed to stop drilling and to line the production area of the well. A 7″ steel, perforated, liner pipe was installed from 1,111M down to the bottom of the well (2,298m).

Senior Geologist Paul Brophy was due on island, bringing “…some very sensitive instruments with them, that can test the pressure and temperatures down the well.”

PWD director, Ron Beardsley now also reports the geothermal Well, referenced as ‘Mon-01’. He confirms that between last Saturday and Sunday geophysicist Thorstein Egilson using specialist measuring tools surveyed temperature and pressure in the #1 Well. Egilson’s report was studied by GoM Geothermal Adviser Mike Allen, Senior Geologist Paul Brophy, Senior Geophysicist Graham Ryan and Geothermal Drilling Project Manager George Scheid.

To come at the Well is, “testing the capacity of the well to generate geothermal energy.”

Beardsley confirmed to TMR, “We did the testing to temperature and pressure, and based on those results it was agreed that we will line the well as it is, there is no need to try drilling any deeper…” adding, “we now leave it for roughly a month to stabilize …once that time expires we will then do a flow test on the well and that’s really what will tell us what resource we have.”

Mon-01 Well capped

The PWD director also confirmed that the repairs of broken down equipment were completed before the latest tests and that while not getting hot water as desired it was satisfactory with the other signs. “What we’ve always had is decent temperature so we were less concerned about getting a hot well…So at that point, we know we have temperature and we know we have fractures in the rock,…” responding that they had to repair to be able to pull out of the first well.

But there are sceptics, so TMR asked on their behalf, what would happen a month from now “…what happens if your flow test fails, what will happen to the first well?” Beardsley responded: “If we, at the end of one month, we’re not getting the flow through into each of the well that we’d expect, so that we’re not under heavy pressure, then there are things that we can do to stimulate the well and encourage it to start flowing,” adding somewhat dismissively, “But the expectation is that, that will be the case anyway.”

Immediately after the testing had been reported, confirmed and accepted, the Iceland Drilling Company (IDC) who is executing the drilling work since February 2013, began the dismantling of the site and moved everything to the second well referenced “Mon-02″ in preparation for drilling. As of today (May 17), our pics show the Well head at the now almost vacated first site and final clearings being carried out, along with the rig being set up at the #2 site.

This report comes nine days after Director of Public Works, Ron Beardsley announced that drilling to prove geothermal resource on Montserrat began. That commencement was delayed and postponed when the engine failed to function.

Roger Almond confirmed, “The engine was the problem, everything’s running really well,” he said, adding that, while the engine is not brand new that was better because brand new need time to “break-in”.

“We started nine days ago, we’re good,” Almond told The Montserrat Reporter on Tuesday this week. “

He added,  “we are in the second stage and we’re getting ready to put the casings in the ground..”

“We have already put in the bigger casing earlier last week and now we’re putting another section of the casing so all this is going in,” he explained.

Almond reported that they have reached about 300 meters. “I figure we’re down 300meters down to a possible 2250….,” he said.

He reported also that they have not encountered any difficulties and no excess temperatures adding, “we’re waiting for that, but we don’t want them yet,” noting, “we want ‘em in a deeper section,” reiterating, “but right now everything is going well.”

He further reassured that the drilling is good, and “the drills are working good.”

Roger Almond

Almond is a member of the firm Capuano Engineering out of California who are supervising the drilling operations on behalf of Montserrat. There are four of them. They take spells, two at a time, “at least two of us at any given time,” as Almond, the leadsman noted to us.

He gave a further insight to the process of the drilling. He said that it is believed that they are drilling right over the reservoir. “We’re looking for the temperature to increase and we’re looking for influx … maybe we’ll see a formation that shows this is the reservoir, that’s what the geologist is looking for….”

Ron Beardsley ,” confirming Almonds description a week ago, stated: “Drilling will now be almost continuous until we find the resource or go down to a maximum depth of two kilometers also as they’re drilling down; they drill to a certain depth and then they withdraw the drill and they put in the steel casing.

The drilling was scheduled to start on February 23, but eventually kicked into action at noon on March 17.

The 8.5 million pounds UK Government funded drilling project exploration phase is estimated to last forty (40) to sixty (60) days.

Well #2 drilling completed

Posted on 26 July 2013.

Geothermal Testing to run until October

By Bennette Roach

Reports on drilling for geothermal resource are that drilling at Well #2 for is complete. What is left is testing, and answers to the questions. ‘Is the resource really there, was the drilling adequate, was this a waste of money to date?”

Three weeks ago in the July 5, 2013 issue we headlined, “Hopes, Doubts and questions shroud geothermal resource exploration”, noting that Director of Public Works, Ron Beardsley who had been reporting on the progress of the drilling project for geothermal resource in the Cork Hill/Weekes area, citing, ‘very good news’ as he reports that the temperature at the geothermal site in the Cork Hill/Weekes area at Well #1has increased to 219.5°C.”

(see: http://www.themontserratreporter.com/hopes-doubts-and-questions-shroud-geothermal-resource-exploration/)

We reported also that the project had been plagued resulting from equipment and procurement problems. Members of the CRM group, who can be credited to have insisted that Government of Montserrat (GoM) and the people, should own everything to do with the geothermal development. This, resulted in the UK Government’s support. The group have long questioned the drilling capacity of the Iceland Drilling rig, which has the capability of going down a depth of only 2,400 meters (approximately 7,872 ft.

Since that report we learnt that the drilling rig at well #2 had suffered another equipment breakdown, but this quickly remedied, and drilling had recommenced on July 10, the same day DFID’s Dr. Kato Kimbugwe was responding to the media on various matters surrounding the geothermal development.

One answer dealt with how DFID would proceed with the production development progress, following a successful resource exploration, which he said ‘there is confidence that the resource is there in Well #1.

Kimbugwe said, “I think the way we’ve dealt with geothermal sets the tone for all the other SGP (Strategic growth plan), investments in that at every stage we will test the market to make sure that there is no private sector interest before any sort of UK funding is provided for geothermal.”

Earlier, Premier Meade had addressed that subject at a press briefing as follows: “…the understanding that the GoM is putting forward is, let us as a people own that resource , let’s develop it and own it. Let us not go to the private sector to seek funding for the development of the production side of things once we can get to the production phase…we have MUL as a power company which is wholly owned by the government of Montserrat, then let us deal with the development where MUL will take it forward…”

There was also the stated position of the Montserrat Geothermal Power Company (MGPC)  group that said a month ago at a press briefing on June 28, “MGPC WILL on behalf of the people of Montserrat, provide a bid for the geothermal power complex in response to an Expression of Interest (EoI) or any other legally authorised tender.”

While all this happening and with drilling continuing at Well #2, and testing at #1, Dr. Kimbugwe told the media that testing will run through to October. “The next phase really after the current drilling is the testing phase which is expected to be completed sometime around October,” he said.

Drilling began on or about February 22, this year, with drilling and testing (of the resource) expected to last six months (four and two months respectively).

Beardsley had said at the beginning of this month, confirming previous statements as to testing, “…we can start pulling it (water) out…and then we can do our long-term testing from that point,” he said.

Our information provided, “reports about the geothermal exploration from the drilling had indicated that the geothermal resource was definite, but its power had to be ascertained and testings were being done for verification.”  That information was from the moment Well #1 had been capped. Further information had indicated testing would last for about two months.

In that earlier story we also reported that officials from the Government overseers of the project had said: “There must be temperature, pressure and flow, tested for a minimum of two months to “prove” the resource.” Beardsley confirmed that later, but referred to it as, “our long-term testing.”

Well #2 – drilling completed

Meanwhile reliable Reports earlier in the week now say that drilling at Well #2 is complete, although today a Ministry of Communication & Works official, would only say that a statement is forthcoming in the coming week. Also unofficial is the news that while it was thought that Well #2 would have produced more positive existence of the resource, the only better news is that the temperature from the well is better than that of Well #1 when drilling had ceased.

Geothermal Unit and Steering Committee

That news is supposed to be good or better news, but although unofficial it did not change the doubts and fears that exist or surround the geothermal project. What keeps surfacing is that with a rig that can only reach straight down less than 2400 meters, the most encouraging information after Well #1 as we await the findings on Well #2, is, “they are confident the resource is there”. The following further statement by Kimbugwe in his response when he said, “…So once that have been proven in terms of whether you have a resource or not and the size of that resource,” once again cast doubt and uncertainty on the other statement of ‘confidence’.

Questions also surface on the management of the project, who speaks for it, who reports on it and to whom. According to project documents there was to be a “Geothermal Unit” which had to be in place prior to June 2012.  The DFID rep was unable to name the entire Geothermal Unit, but said it was in place.

“Yes, you do have a geothermal unit. The geothermal unit is based in the Ministry of Communications and Works,” he responded, giving the names of two persons and two agencies, the other two he was unable to name, one of whom was to be an engineer.

That unit was, accordingly as the project dictated: “GoM will staff a new Geothermal Unit responsible for overall project management, procurement processes including evaluation of tenders and presentation to the GoM Central Tenders Board,. This Unit will report on all matters related to the drilling contract.

“The key positions in this unit will be:

1. Geothermal Project Manager – Contracted in for preparation, drilling and testing.

2. “Company Man” – Contracted in for the drilling operation which requires 24/7 cover (3 people on rotation.) 3. Civil Engineer (GoM local recruit) 4. Well Test Engineer (contracted)

5. Administrative and accountancy staff (GoM local recruit.) 6. Montserrat Volcano Observatory Staff – contracted for extra safety cover at unloading/loading.”

The dedicated Geothermal Unit was to, “be established to lead and oversee a successful drilling operation leading to the proving of a geothermal resource, on time and within budget.

“…to keep an accurate track of progress and expenditure, and use this to keep amending the programme as required and rolling forecasts out on a monthly basis…”

Besides this, GoM was to establish a Steering Committee for the geothermal exploratory drilling operation, to monitor progress and hold the geothermal unit to account. “This will be made up of : Financial Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development MCWL/PWD and DFID.

Geothermal Resource best news

Posted on 06 September 2013.

by Bennette Roach

…The settling of a long outstanding issue of Government’s (GoM) to the Social Security Board, the value for money conditional support for development of Little Bay and Carrs Bay, assuring that Montserrat can sign the treaty which establishes the OECS Economic Union. Moreover, the best as far as the economic future of Montserrat was perceived, news of support for the beginning of exploration and development of ‘geothermal energy’.

Twenty months later, UK’s £8.5 million input (the initial cost of Gerald’s airport) it appears that the investment to support production well drilling for geothermal energy is on the verge of becoming what both UK DFID and the Premier Reuben T. Meade described as an “economic game changer” for Montserrat.

The Best News

And after misdirection, stuttering, stumbles, silence and accusations, the news broke on Wednesday that there was a noisy sound as steam hissed from a tank at the Well #1 site. Upon enquiry it was not to undo the good news, but one observer familiar with how it ought to sound to bring it to the stage of commercial viability, said, “I hope that the well is mostly capped and that this is just minor venting.” The explanation, “An Icelandic production well venting makes an enormous steam cloud and roars like a dragon!” Brings to mind the sounds when the steam pushed its way out at Soufriere Hills that July 18 night.

First information said that it would not be known before a few more days, “that the well is pretty productive…”

Cautioning against over-optimistic expectations, a source explained:  “They have pumped so much water into the well and at the moment it’s coming back out again.  What they want to find out is when the water stop coming out and it becomes the water which is being generated from underground and it’s starting to come up…” still hoping for even better news.

The temperature of the water at the surface has been increasingly and last reported at 298ºC, converts to approximately 568.4 ºF, from 290 ºC overnight. Director of Public Works Ron Beardsley speaking officially on the matter said that tests at the base of the well earlier read 235 ºC.

This good news comes after several weeks of coaxing and searching with the belief that the resource was there, while the wait as expressed above will be to determine the capacity of the resource.

The good news is that the report is, “it looks very favorable.” That is the best news to date. ZJB Radio calls it a, “major breakthrough in geothermal exploration in Montserrat.”

He confirms our source as he follows up, intending not to be over confident, “It is still too early to confidently say that we have a commercially viable well. However,” he said, “The signs are very encouraging.”

The Director who, naturally serves on the Geothermal Unit says, the intention is, “to let it continue to flow for a few days to monitor temperature and pressure.”

In this statement, Beardsley says, that the next step will be to carry out specialist long-term testing.  This will be carried out over several weeks and will determine the chemical composition of the geothermal fluids, as well as the temperature and pressure from the resource.  This critical data will inform the design of the most cost-effective generation plant for our location.  It will also give an estimate of the long term capacity of the resource.  The long term testing will be carried out over the next couple of months.

But the next question. What about Well #2? Can they just do the same and hope? The project managers sensing they need to take action as reported last week had sought to improve on the drilling to date, being carried out by the Icelandic Drilling Company Ltd.

Beardsley reported that the rig “has now been repaired and the drilling team resumed operations last night (Wednesday night).”

He said the Well would be cleaned out and lined down to its current depth of 2347 meters.  That the intention is to carry on drilling a little deeper to provide further geological data.  He concludes, “The drilling operation on Montserrat should be fully completed within the next two weeks.”

While all the news sounds great there is still some nervousness of the unknown possible result, that the activity to be carried out at Well #2. “I don’t know what’s the difference going down to 3,000 meters might make!” our source said nervously.

He explained, “Well, because it may not make any difference at all. It is possible to go pass the heat source – for the temperature to decrease. It doesn’t have to increase.” The suggestion is, that while being near to the resource it can be in any direction away from the hole.

That however, everyone agrees, is that there is great news. Everything seems set for potentially greater news by the end of October.

Next report – December 13 issue – page 3 – Slow geothermal progress (and reports) leave doubt