BRADES, Montserrat – Montserrat has received the United Kingdom’s green light and assurance of financial support for geothermal exploration.
The Honourable Reuben Meade on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department for International Development (DFID) agreeing to a series of time bound reforms which if successful could lead to “increased capital investment and technical assistance, funded by the UK.
The Rt. Hon. Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development and the Rt. Hon. Alan Duncan, Minister of State for International Development announced that the UK government will support the Montserrat’s plan to “prove the size and potential of Montserrat’s geothermal reserves,” a statement from Government House said.
“The funds will support Phase one of an exploratory well drilling programme over a 12-month period starting May 2012. The funding will cover all necessary site preparation and access works, all drilling, supervision and well testing costs, and the technical assistance required by the GoM to manage and implement this project successfully.
“If exploration proves successful the wells could be used for production. While there now seems a good chance that the exploration will prove the resource. It is not yet certain that Montserrat will be able to move to the production phase,” the release said.
Premier Meade said a group presently drilling in Dominica will be on island later this week to assess the potential sites and make a decision on tendering for the project. He added that recent discussions with Guadeloupe officials, who have been supporting geothermal exploration in the region and are willing to look at ways to assist Montserrat in its undertaking, put the island in a good position now with UK backing to make geothermal a reality.
“We need to prove the resource and it will be a combination of a test and production well. Depending on the resource coming out, we will them consider what size of plant we will need for Montserrat. Reports have said it will take a two to four megawatt plant” to handle the island’s power needs,” he added.
Once Phase one is completed, the intention is to see if private sector companies would be interested in bidding for the Phase two before seeking additional support from the UK government.
Hon. Charles Kirnon, Minister of Communications & Works said he welcomed the decision by the UK and said they are hoping to meet the 12-month target to assess the island’s geothermal resource.
Since early 2010, DFID has been working with the GoM to build up evidence for developing geothermal energy. The overall impact of successful geothermal development in Montserrat would mean significant improvement in energy security, cheaper electricity generation, and reduced dependency on diesel.