Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica Website
Monday, 24 April 2017

Opening Ceremony

Fort Young Hotel

September 26- 27 2013

Salutations:

  • Hon. Alix Boyd Knights Speaker of the House of Assembly
  • Hon. Rayburn Blackmoore Minister of Public Works Energy and Ports
  • Cabinet colleagues
  • Hon. Members of Parliament
  • Mr. Harry Durimel Vice president of the Regional Council of Guadeloupe and his delegation
  • The delegation from the Regional Council of Martinique
  • Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps
  • Ambassador Steve Ferrol Cabinet Secretary
  • Representatives of the Government of the French Republic
  • Representatives of Agence Francais de Development – AFD
  • The Delegation from the European Union
  • Representatives of the Clinton Climate Initiative
  • Mrs. Rosamund Edwards Financial Secretary
  • Representatives of other regional and international organizations
  • Representatives of regional governments
  • Permanent Secretaries and Senior Government Officials
  • The Chief of Police
  • Mr. Gary Shillingford of the Laudat Community and his delegation
  • Other invited guests
  • Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning and welcome to this forum.

It has been well documented that Small Island Developing states, including Dominica, share a number of peculiar vulnerabilities and characteristics. Among these are a narrow range of resources, which forces undue specialization; excessive dependence on international trade and hence vulnerability to global developments, costly public administration and infrastructure, including transportation and administration, limited institutional capacities and domestic markets, and limited export volumes, which are too small to achieve economies of scale.

One of the other characteristics that the SIDS share with developing countries in general, is that of energy dependence and access.

A number of articles in the publication World Energy Outlook of 2004, use empirical analysis of the relationship of energy to various development indicators, to make the point that energy is a prerequisite to economic development.

That same publication stresses the urgency on countries to work on meeting the targets laid down in the Millenium Development Goals of the United Nations for alleviating poverty. It goes on to encourage governments to act decisively to accelerate the transition to modern fuels and to break the vicious cycle of energy poverty and human underdevelopment in the world`s poorest countries.

For the past eight years, and building on anecdotal and scientific information on Dominica`s geothermal potential, the government has taken decisive action to bring about such a transition.

We are here today because of the strides made and the scientific results obtained from government`s efforts to make geothermal energy a game changer in the configuration of the Dominican economy.

All of you, our development partners, have made some contribution, whether directly or indirectly, in bringing us to this day.

It is therefore with great pleasure and gratitude that I welcome you to our Nature Isle. It is my wish and desire that your participation at this forum, will be written in the records, not merely as a polite response to an invitation from a sovereign state, but as a pledge and a commitment to stand with Dominica in transforming what to date has been described as the country`s geothermal potential, into a commercial reality.

Ladies and gentlemen, geography and historical events have caused the development of a unique relationship between Dominica and the French Departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique. To make a long story short, when disasters have struck, as in the eruption of Mount Pelee in 1912, and at other critical times in the past, notably when Frenchmen were fleeing the Vichy regime in the 1940s, we have been there for each other. Currently there is a large and sizable population of first and second generation Dominicans who have made Guadeloupe their home.

It is no coincidence then, that the spirit of mutual interdependence developed among our islands and people over the years, have found expression, among other things, in various technical assistance initiatives and cooperation agreements between public and private sector entities in our respective countries.

I particularly want to single this out, for it was the signing, in April 2008, of an agreement between the Regional Council of Guadeloupe and Dominica that was the energizer and catalyst for propelling us forward to today.

Guadeloupe took the lead in mobilizing Interreg 3 funds to commence research into the feasibility of geothermal development in the Wotten Waven area of the Roseau valley, and of interconnectivity between Dominica and Martinique and Guadeloupe.

The positive results from this exercise gave impetus to the design of a project which brought together the European Union, the Agence Francaise de Developpment and the Government of Dominica in an effort at drilling three exploratory wells at a cost of US $ 11.98 million.

Here again, the results were positive and highly encouraging. The success achieved so far is testimony to how seemingly insurmountable barriers to development can be overcome, when countries and multilateral partners decide to come together to act in their own mutual interest.

The Government of Dominica is on record that the benefits to be derived from the development of geothermal energy in Dominica will be shared with Guadeloupe and Martinique.

I reiterate this position today.

As detailed in the agenda, this forum has been convened to share information on the technical, legal, environmental, economic and financing dimensions of developing the geothermal resource in the Roseau valley. The purpose for doing so, is to garner the interest and commitment of Dominica`s friends and potential investors in providing financial and technical support to construct two geothermal plants. One of these plants will be designed to produce  up to 20 megawatts to supply electricity to the domestic market, and the other, of 100 megawatts, to supply electricity to Guadeloupe and Martinique via submarine cable.

Ladies and gentlemen, the development of a geothermal resource to the point of producing electricity, is a complex and challenging exercise. This is totally new to us in Dominica and we do not have the requisite skills and experience to carry out such a task successfully. We are also fully aware that by ourselves, and given the current fiscal realities, it would be a daunting task to raise financing of the magnitude  required to do so.

We believe that this forum, is the first of its kind to gather in the English speaking Caribbean, perhaps the first of its kind in the Americas. For us, you represent the best that the world has to offer in knowledge, skill and experience in developing and operating geothermal resources.

We will be sharing with you, all that we have done in developing the resource in the Roseau valley. In turn, we want you to be frank, to ask the hard questions, and to identify any pitfalls you may see ahead as we gain momentum in commercializing the resource.

We want to leave no room for error as we proceed, and we repose our trust in you that this will be accomplished.

Let me now turn to the business side of things.

Over the past few years, the Government of Dominica has given special attention to modernizing the legal framework and introducing the necessary reforms for improving the environment for doing business.

The Parliament has passed a Procurement and Contract Administration Act and has amended and strengthened legislation related to white collar crime, money laundering and the confiscation of assets acquired from criminal activity.

On the reform side, Customs procedures have been improved with the introduction of the trade facilitation software ASYCUDA World, and it now takes considerably less time to clear goods.

The administration of land matters has been vastly improved with the digitization and coding of all lands, thereby allowing the determination of their status in a matter of seconds.

Government continues to participate in the Regional Electronic Government for Regional Integration Project ( EGRIP ) which seeks to promote the efficiency, quality and transparency of public services through the use of integrated e-government applications.

Of particular importance to this gathering, would be the Electricity Supply Act (ESA) #10 of 2006 which came into force on January 25, 2007. This Act also established the Independent Regulatory Commission (IRC) to regulate the generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity services and for purposes connected therewith. The ESA also repealed the electricity supply act 1996 [no. 21 of 1996].

Of no less importance and significance, is the Geothermal Resources Development Bill. This piece of legislation seeks to secure the interest of all parties and groups likely to be affected or impacted by the activities involved in commercializing the resource. The Bill was tabled in the Parliament toward the end of 2012. Currently, it is being further reviewed by the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Geothermal Policy, Technical, and Negotiating Committees, and the technical and legal staff of development partners. Final passage of the Bill by the Parliament, will benefit from the inputs of these parties.

At the institutional level, a Project Management Unit has been responsible for coordinating the geothermal development programme. As we now move from the exploratory drilling phase to the production stage, a Geothermal Development Unit, GDU will be established. The Unit will be responsible for:

n   Continuing to promote investments in the development of Dominica’s geothermal resources;

n   Ensuring that the interest and benefit of the State and other stakeholders in the geothermal enterprise is maintained and sustained;

n   Ensuring that the geothermal resource is being used with appropriate efficiency to maintain the long term viability of the resource;

n   Ensuring that the geothermal resource is being utilised in a safe and environmentally and socially appropriate manner; and

n   Assisting in monitoring all safety and reliability issues for the sustainability of the resource and the operation of geothermal plants

 

Government has set in motion a programme of training so that over time, the unit will have in-house competencies in :

  • Geo-Sciences  
    • Geothermal Power Engineering
    • Engineering and energy economics, and
    • Environmental Law and Economics

Appropriate training for functionaries of the IRC will run simultaneously with that of the GDU in order to equip the IRC with the knowledge and tools to carry out its mandate with efficiency in a geothermal energy environment

It is government`s intention to keep the dialogue with our partner/s who will decide to journey with us in this geothermal enterprise open, with the intention of making any adjustments, legal or otherwise that will raise the comfort level of all. With this said, I have every confidence that upon conclusion of this forum, a clear path formoving forward with the commercialization of this enterprise will have been proposed

Ladies and gentlemen, I would now like to share with you what the successful completion of this investment will mean for Dominica, the Caribbean, and for the participating partner or partners.

The cost of electricity in Dominica, at E.C $1.16 or U.S. $0.43 per kilowatt hour, is one of the highest in the region. This cost varies with the price of oil on the international market, and is a constant cause of complain by consumers. It should therefore come as no surprise, that a 2010 Enterprise Survey revealed that 66 per cent of businesses cited the cost of electricity as a major constraint to growth.

Various models prepared by our advisors and experts, have projected a decrease in the price of electricity in the range of 40 to 50 per cent with the full implementation of the project.

There is every reason to believe that this will positively impact the cost of living in Dominica, enhance the attractiveness of the country for doing business, and stimulate the establishment of new businesses, thereby leading to the creation of new job opportunities.

We pride ourselves as the Nature Isle of the Caribbean. Currently, approximately 36 percent of the electricity generated is from hydro. The bulk of the generation, approximately 64 per cent, is from diesel which was imported at cost in the region of E.C $ 50 million in 2012.

With generation shifting mainly to geothermal, Dominica will make a significant move in leading the pack as the first clean and green energy country in the Caribbean.

The benefit to the country`s balance of payments will be tremendous with the cessation of the outflow of E.C. $37 million annually from the economy.

During this forum, we expect to sign a Transnational Partnership Agreement with the Regional Council of Guadeloupe. Apart from providing for cooperative arrangements in the development of geothermal energy in our respective countries and in the region, the agreement seeks to establish a Geothermal Centre of Excellence. This Centre will become a hub for training and for obtaining real time experience in the geothermal disciplines and in the operation of geothermal plants.

On the investor side, what I can say at this point, is that all the financial models that I have seen and which were prepared by our experts, project returns on both equity and overall investment that are highly competitive for the type of investment before us, and certainly much higher than that which would be obtained from any bank. The full picture will be revealed to the partner or partners who decide to move with us in making the required investment.

There is an ongoing global conversation surrounding some principles of social and economic equity, as applied to who should benefit from the use of a country`s resources and in what proportion the beneficiaries should be rewarded.

On this matter, the Government of Dominica is clear. First, the owners and risk takers should be the principal beneficiaries. Second, they should be rewarded in proportion to the level of risk to which they have exposed themselves.

Our position is that the owners of Dominica`s geothermal resources, are the people of Dominica, with the government of the day merely trustees for them. In determining benefits, our first approach is to apply the subsidiarity principle, and involve the lowest level of decentralized authority, that is, individual citizens and groups, in expressing their concerns and arriving at agreement on how these concerns can be best addressed to the advantage of all.

By financing the surface reconnaissance and carrying out exploration drilling, government has eliminated about 50 per cent of the risk involved. The successful drilling of the production and reinjection wells, will further reduce the risk in proceeding with the full execution of the project as conceived.

In the first instance, we will be leveraging the agreed value of reducing the risk, in negotiating the capital structure of the company to carry the project forward. Having settled on this, we are committed to engage our prospective partner or partners, on matters such as royalties, taxes and the like, guided by the principles of fairness and equity.

We expect an outcome that will provide the greatest sustainable benefit possible to Dominica, the individuals and communities directly impacted by the project, and of course, to all investors.

Your presence here, tells me that you are ready to join hands with Dominica in opening up a new frontier for stimulating the economic transformation of our region and for frontally pursuing the eradication of poverty.

Let us not look back as we pursue this opportunity that destiny has placed in our collective hands.

May God bless this forum and deliver successful outcomes.

 

 

 

 

Find Us On Facebook