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Slow geothermal progress leaves doubt and speculation

by B. Roach

After refusing or dodging questions last week Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 as to news on the now completed drilling exercise on geothermal development, Dr. Cato Kimbugwe revealed to a capacity gathering at Government House on Tuesday this week, interim information on the geothermal findings at Well #1 with work tests still continuing on Well #2.

It took the Governor’s wife, Mrs. SuJue Davis to get the MDC management finally to go on the road other than posting to what most describe to be a useless website, and speak to the public. Even so the Montserrat public is still waiting to learn about their future as the gathering was mostly, minimum 95% visitors and part-time residents from the unused and the now still to be tapped economic basket on the island.

“The estimates so far suggest that at least Well #1 is producing 2 megawatts…” Kimbugwe said to the attentive audience.

He was responding to a question about the capacity results of the drilling. He revealed that the island is currently using 1.7 megawatts, and said, “One point seven (1.7) is what you’re currently using on the island.  The estimate so far—and I cannot pre-judge the final report—but the estimates so far suggest that at least well number 1 is producing two megawatts.” But, he cautioned, “those are just the estimates, the initial figures, we’ve been given.” He advised as he did earlier, “We’ve got to wait until the 15th of January when the final report comes in from the experts which will conclusively tell you what you’ve got in both well number one (1) and well number two (2).”

On the Thursday before speaking to ZJB and TMR (The Montserrat Reporter) at the Governor’s press conference, when asked for geothermal update, he said: “The latest position on geothermal is that both wells are being tested and that the final results of that testing program are expected in the middle of January,” followed by a long explanation of little.

He talked about the ‘rumour mill or Chinese whisper’; being responsible; the report, “will clearly be communicated by the relevant ministry,”; It’s a critical moment. Governor Davis buts in:  “There’s a lot of steam coming out of the wells.”

He admitted when tested, “yes…testing on well number one has been completed,” but when asked for progress information, because people are starving for information, he responded.  “No. You have to wait until…” explaining there are two wells. “There are two commercial wells – To take a decision on which well is most productive…you have to complete both tests. That is the advice we are getting from Mike Allen, who is the geothermal expert, you have to listen to that advice – Nobody can take their own decision to give you the results of the outcome of well number one when they don’t know clearly the outcome of the results on well number two. I think, let’s just be patient, you know, ‘til the early part of January when the experts will be on island.” he enlightened.

At Government House, where he was speaking on Tuesday, he discoursed further. “At the moment, we are waiting for those final results that would tell us the nature of the resource, whether you’ve got two megawatts on each of the wells or you’ve got more.  Once that has been determined and the final report has been produced, we’ll undertake an economic appraisal.”

He also explained that the economic appraisal would look at the options for investments, whether you’re doing it via the public means in terms of public funding or, “you’re doing it by the private sector, or a public/private partnership.”

He said further, “Whichever of those options within the economic appraisal turns out to provide the best return on investment—and in particular, that economic appraisal will look wider than just the returns to government but, in terms of the relief to individuals in terms of a catalyst to the wider development of the island…”

Then he further revealed: “it will be on that basis that a decision will be taken as to whether to provide public funding or not or to then go out to tender for a public/private or use a private-sector driven approach to the installation of the generators.”

It was after all that, and a promise that going forward all will be transparent, he disclosed the (estimated) return on Well #1.

Hope beyond Doubts of successful progress

Knowing that information previously, TMR had also learnt from sources (not the rumour mill) that signs are that Well #2 might produce slightly better results. However, the observation raises doubts as to the success moving forward. As the DFID private sector expert noted, Montserrat currently uses 1.7 mw which suggests that hopes using anything slightly over 2 mw of geothermal power would not do much for Montserrat’s industrial hopes.

Dr. Kimbugwe told the press conference: “Actually, the way the technology works is that…because you’ve only got two wells here, you’ll have to be producing from one and re-injecting the fluids in the other one in order to keep that cycle going.  That’s why you can’t take a decision on one before you see the results from the other one,” he informed.

Sources inform that there has been disgust and argument that the drilling process deployed was wrong and not to specification. It is according to one knowledgeable source, more than speculation that any poor result from the completed drilling phase, may and is more likely to require further drilling, this time following specifics. It is more than rumour that this is only part of the reason for the silence that Montserrat people have been enduring over what has been described as a game changer for Montserrat.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

by B. Roach

After refusing or dodging questions last week Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 as to news on the now completed drilling exercise on geothermal development, Dr. Cato Kimbugwe revealed to a capacity gathering at Government House on Tuesday this week, interim information on the geothermal findings at Well #1 with work tests still continuing on Well #2.

It took the Governor’s wife, Mrs. SuJue Davis to get the MDC management finally to go on the road other than posting to what most describe to be a useless website, and speak to the public. Even so the Montserrat public is still waiting to learn about their future as the gathering was mostly, minimum 95% visitors and part-time residents from the unused and the now still to be tapped economic basket on the island.

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“The estimates so far suggest that at least Well #1 is producing 2 megawatts…” Kimbugwe said to the attentive audience.

He was responding to a question about the capacity results of the drilling. He revealed that the island is currently using 1.7 megawatts, and said, “One point seven (1.7) is what you’re currently using on the island.  The estimate so far—and I cannot pre-judge the final report—but the estimates so far suggest that at least well number 1 is producing two megawatts.” But, he cautioned, “those are just the estimates, the initial figures, we’ve been given.” He advised as he did earlier, “We’ve got to wait until the 15th of January when the final report comes in from the experts which will conclusively tell you what you’ve got in both well number one (1) and well number two (2).”

On the Thursday before speaking to ZJB and TMR (The Montserrat Reporter) at the Governor’s press conference, when asked for geothermal update, he said: “The latest position on geothermal is that both wells are being tested and that the final results of that testing program are expected in the middle of January,” followed by a long explanation of little.

He talked about the ‘rumour mill or Chinese whisper’; being responsible; the report, “will clearly be communicated by the relevant ministry,”; It’s a critical moment. Governor Davis buts in:  “There’s a lot of steam coming out of the wells.”

He admitted when tested, “yes…testing on well number one has been completed,” but when asked for progress information, because people are starving for information, he responded.  “No. You have to wait until…” explaining there are two wells. “There are two commercial wells – To take a decision on which well is most productive…you have to complete both tests. That is the advice we are getting from Mike Allen, who is the geothermal expert, you have to listen to that advice – Nobody can take their own decision to give you the results of the outcome of well number one when they don’t know clearly the outcome of the results on well number two. I think, let’s just be patient, you know, ‘til the early part of January when the experts will be on island.” he enlightened.

At Government House, where he was speaking on Tuesday, he discoursed further. “At the moment, we are waiting for those final results that would tell us the nature of the resource, whether you’ve got two megawatts on each of the wells or you’ve got more.  Once that has been determined and the final report has been produced, we’ll undertake an economic appraisal.”

He also explained that the economic appraisal would look at the options for investments, whether you’re doing it via the public means in terms of public funding or, “you’re doing it by the private sector, or a public/private partnership.”

He said further, “Whichever of those options within the economic appraisal turns out to provide the best return on investment—and in particular, that economic appraisal will look wider than just the returns to government but, in terms of the relief to individuals in terms of a catalyst to the wider development of the island…”

Then he further revealed: “it will be on that basis that a decision will be taken as to whether to provide public funding or not or to then go out to tender for a public/private or use a private-sector driven approach to the installation of the generators.”

It was after all that, and a promise that going forward all will be transparent, he disclosed the (estimated) return on Well #1.

Hope beyond Doubts of successful progress

Knowing that information previously, TMR had also learnt from sources (not the rumour mill) that signs are that Well #2 might produce slightly better results. However, the observation raises doubts as to the success moving forward. As the DFID private sector expert noted, Montserrat currently uses 1.7 mw which suggests that hopes using anything slightly over 2 mw of geothermal power would not do much for Montserrat’s industrial hopes.

Dr. Kimbugwe told the press conference: “Actually, the way the technology works is that…because you’ve only got two wells here, you’ll have to be producing from one and re-injecting the fluids in the other one in order to keep that cycle going.  That’s why you can’t take a decision on one before you see the results from the other one,” he informed.

Sources inform that there has been disgust and argument that the drilling process deployed was wrong and not to specification. It is according to one knowledgeable source, more than speculation that any poor result from the completed drilling phase, may and is more likely to require further drilling, this time following specifics. It is more than rumour that this is only part of the reason for the silence that Montserrat people have been enduring over what has been described as a game changer for Montserrat.