(UPDATED) Hon. Minister of Energy Paul Lewis said in last week’s parliamentary session that his government remains committed to the geothermal project.
In response to questions posed by the Hon. Opposition member Dr Samuel Joseph, the minister said that the Department for International Development (DFID) was currently in negotiation with Iceland Drilling Company (IDC) to complete the drilling and testing of the third geothermal well.
An initial contract for drilling the third well was signed in April 2016. Work on Mon#3 was halted after a partial collapse in 2017. Minister Lewis did not explain what caused DFID to take the project negotiation and management lead for the third well, when the Government of Montserrat had already successfully completed the first two wells with the same company.
The minister also shared that the government has completed the Early Market Engagement process for constructing a geothermal surface plant. He said the “findings will be discussed with relevant authorities and DFID”, adding the people of Montserrat will have an opportunity to learn the results of the EMEs once that is done.
When asked for a timeline for more details on the EME, he said it would be unlikely that any information would be shared before the end of August.
Minister Lewis, said the government was still interested in pursuing a public private partnership for distribution and management of the geothermal project. However, the Hon. Premier and Minister of Finance Donaldson Romeo said in his rebuttal that he was in favour of pursuing a grant from the UK to fund the next phase rather than subjecting the people to a public private partnership.
It is hoped that switching from fossil fuels to geothermal energy will reduce the high cost of electricity for consumers by as much as 50%. Premier Romeo believes that Montserrat running on green energy will make it more attractive for manufacturers.