Geothermal Development on Montserrat to Receive UK FundingWritten by Hazel D. Adams Riley
BRADES, Montserrat – The assurance of financial support for geothermal exploration on Montserrat has finally been received from the United Kingdom. This is after about seven years of talking. This was revealed by the Honourable Reuben Meade on Tuesday following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department for International Development (DFID).
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.” the release said.
Premier Meade revealed that a group will be on island later this week to assess the potential sites and make a decision on tendering for the project. They are presently drilling in neighbouring Dominica. Meade added that Montserrat is in a good position now with UK backing to make geothermal a reality. Discussions have taken place recently with Guadeloupe officials, who have been supporting geothermal exploration in the region. They are willing to look at ways to assist the island.
“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 then 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. The exploration will take place in the exclusion zone between St. Georges Hill and Foxes Bay, in an area formerly the site of a lime field.
Meade is optimistic that once Phase one is completed, private sector companies would be interested in bidding for the Phase two. There were no private sector bids for this phase. IF this does not materialise they will seek additional support from the UK government.
Minister of Communications & Works Hon. Charles Kirnon, welcomes the decision by the UK and said that his department is hoping to meet the 12-month target to assess the island’s geothermal resource.
Successful geothermal development in Montserrat would mean cheaper electricity, improved energy security, possible export income and the reduced dependency on petroleum products. There were three price hikes during the month of April.