Following talks of testing the island’s geo-thermal resources to determine its potential energy value for Dominica and other islands in the region, the Government of Dominica has begun an exploratory drilling exercise in Laudat on Monday.
Funded in part by the European Union and various French agencies, the Geothermal Project is part of government’s plan to provide a more reliable and affordable source of energy for Dominica, thereby reducing its dependence on crude oil from other countries.
Earlier this year, the Government of Dominica signed a contract with the Icelandic Government for the drilling of three test wells in the Roseau Valley area. In November, heavy equipment and machinery for well-logging and testing arrived on the island to facilitate research during the month of December.
At Monday’s ground-breaking ceremony Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit said this phase of the project is a great milestone for Dominica. He also expressed his thanks to the stakeholders involved including the Organization of American States (OAS), of which Dominica became a member in 1979.
“We are indeed very happy to be at this stage with regards to the geothermal prospects for Dominica. I would like to say special thanks to the OAS who really started with us in the initial studies of the geothermal potential of Dominica; and had it not been for that study we would not have been able to take the process forward, because that was certainly a very important pre-requisite to advancing the project.”
Dominica’s OAS representative, Michael Bejos says his organisation remains a long-term partner and will continue to work with the Ministry of Energy on its solar water heating program. He also says the OAS has given its commitment to helping secure final approval from Cabinet, of Dominica’s National Energy Policy.
The Prime Minister also articulated his gratitude to the French agencies particularly the Regional Council of Guadeloupe. “I also want to single out the Regional Council of Guadeloupe and its leadership in Guadeloupe because they were at the fore-front of the geothermal project. As a matter of fact, at the time it was as if the geothermal potential resided in Guadeloupe rather than in Dominica, because of the passion which President (of the Regional Council of Guadeloupe) Lurel and his staff have shown in respect to this very important project.”
The Dominica leader believes this geothermal project provides a great opportunity for regional co-operation and integration and that Dominica’s resources must be shared with our French neighbours in Martinique and Guadeloupe as well as Antigua and Barbuda.
Special mention was also made of the European Union and Agence Francaise de Développement (AFD), another major sponsor of the geothermal project. The Prime Minister says the AFD has been a loyal partner in Dominica’s development over an extended period of time.
The test drilling, conducted by an Icelandic well-testing company, Iceland GeoSurvey, will determine whether or not geothermal resource in the Roseau Valley is suitable for generating significant volumes of electricity, as well as the feasibility of the proposed underwater transmission to supply the neighbouring French islands.
Government officials present at Monday’s event included MP for the Roseau Valley Constituency, Hon. Dr. Colin McIntyre and Minister responsible for Energy, Hon. Rayburn Blackmoore. Mr Blackmore said this new phase of the geothermal project is testimony that government is serious about bringing this project to a reality.
“This Labour Party Administration, led by Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit has been able to transform what has been said to be fantasies in the past, to realities. Talk about our potential in geothermal energy has been in the air long before the coming into office of this administration. Again, my dear friends, past administrations were not able to walk the talk. Today we are demonstrating to you that we are walking the talk. [That] would require building partnership and co-operation with states and organizations in order to mobilize the requisite resources and technical competence to take us that point we are now at, in our development as a collective.”
Exploration drilling will take place in three main locations in the Roseau Valley. The first site identified is an area called Pachoute Estate, between Wotten Waven and Trafalgar. The second site is in the vicinity of the Rain Forest Aerial Tram network in Laudat and the third site is located in Laudat near Domlec’s balancing tank.
Hon. Dr. Colin Mc Intyre welcomes the project to the Roseau Valley area and says the government has taken steps to ensure that this exercise will be conducted in an environmentally friendly manner.
In February, an initial Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was conducted to highlight the impact on the environment during and after the drilling exercise, and a geothermal resource group from the United States of America is currently supervising test drilling activities.
Government’s long-term plan is to build a one hundred and twenty megawatt (120 MW) power plant which will have the capacity to provide energy to other islands in the region.