Preparatory work continues for geothermal exploration

01-23-13-Geothermal siteBRADES, Montserrat – Montserrat continues to prepare to explore its geothermal potential, which is scheduled to begin in earnest in February. The drilling rig and other equipment belonging to the Iceland Drilling Company, which won the contract to explore for energy resources, are scheduled to arrive on island January 29, say government officials.

The Honourable Premier Reuben Meade on Tuesday said dredging of the jetty area in Plymouth to accommodate the vessel bringing in the equipment was approved by Cabinet in the national interest. This after, the two contractors bids, one bid at three million and the other at $0.5 million were rejected.

“Discussions were held with the group that had submitted the lower bid. The vessel bringing the rig and materials for the geothermal project was expected to arrive on the 18th of January and it was determined that it was not timely to go back to public tender. Cabinet intervened in the national interest and suggested an approach which was eventually taken. In the absence of this decision, if the vessel had arrived as scheduled, the demurrage cost for the ship along with associated costs would have been in excess of $90,000 per day. It was suggested that retendering would have pushed the works back by over a month which would cost government potentially over $1million,” he explained to the Legislative Assembly.

The Department for International Development (DFID) has allocated 8.5 million pounds for the exploration of geothermal energy on island. Since the contract with IDC was signed in October 2012, the site preparation work began in earnest. All of the areas have been cleared and the water tanks and other holding areas constructed.

The drilling and testing phases are expected to take three to four months. Two wells will be drilled down to a depth of 5,000 feet in Zone C, between Weekes Village and Garibaldi Hill. A Geothermal Exploration Report done by EGS of California said there was an 80% likelihood of geothermal energy on Montserrat.

Photo caption: Site of the geothermal project where the drilling rigs will be set up.