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Dominica forging ahead with geothermal resource development…. drilling expected to begin June 2009

The Government of Dominica in collaboration with the European Union, The Regional Council of Guadeloupe, the Agence Francaise de Developpement and other French development partners is forging head with plans to exploit the country’s geothermal resource. This information came to light at the first Project Steering Committee Meeting for the Geothermal project held recently.

The Meeting was attended by Minister for Energy, Hon. Charles Savarin, Permanent Secretary, Mr. Vincent Philbert, Senior Project Officer in the Ministry of Public Utilities, Mr. Michael Fadelle, National Authorizing Officer of the European Development Fund, Mr. Edward Lambert, Mr. Paul Mondesir from the Office of the European Commission in Barbados and officials from DOMLEC, the Independent Regulatory Commission and the Private Sector.

The Government of Dominica is pursuing the development of the country’s geothermal resource in two phases. The first, the preliminary phase, is entitled: Geothermal Energy in the Caribbean Islands. A transnational partnership agreement with the Regional Council of Guadeloupe, the Regional Council of Martinique and other French development partners financed under INTERREG III B, was signed in April, 2008. Funding under INTERREG III B is coming from regional development funds from the European Union.

According to Hon. Charles Savarin, this preliminary phase of the project involves geological, geophysical and geochemical analyses and related environmental and feasibility studies of the geothermal resource in Dominica.

A report due by the end of November, 2008 is expected to provide the following information:

  • The nature and quality of the geothermal resource in the Wotton Waven area;
  • Provide a preliminary analysis of the environmental impact of the proposed project;
  • Provide a preliminary analysis of the legal and institutional framework of the project;
  • Revise and update an economic assessment of the project which was prepared in 2005 under an OAS funded feasibility study exercise;
  • The exact locations in the Wotton Waven area to drill.

The second phase, the more comprehensive one, is entitled: “Preparation of a Geothermal-Based Cross Border Electrical Interconnection in the Caribbean”. It is being financed by the European Union, the Agence Francaise de Developpement and the Fonds Francais pour L’ Environment Mondial (FFEM).

The sum of 1.5 million Euros is expected to come from the European Union. 2 million Euros will come from AFD, 2 million EUROS from FFEM and a possible 3 million Euros from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The Financing Agreement with the European Commission for this phase of the project was signed in January, 2008. It is a three year project and is intended to achieve the following:

  • A determination as to whether the geothermal resource in the Wotton Waven area is technically suitable for generating significant volumes of electricity;
  • It will further determine the feasibility of the proposed underwater transmission and interconnection to supply the French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique;
  • The preparation of an investment prospectus for the proposed development and undertake test drilling in those specific areas identified by the investigations under the INTERREG III B funded component of the project to establish the best locations for siting the power production platforms;
  • The provision of technical assistance and project management services for the Programme Management Unit(PMU) to coordinate and monitor the implementation and progress of the project activities;
  • Technical assistance to be provided in respect of policy, environment and regulation, communication, public relations and monitoring.

In his remarks at the meeting, Hon. Savarin reiterated a statement he made earlier this year that the exploitation of the geothermal resource “could become the most important economic activity on the island for decades to come”.

“This is the most significant development programme for Dominica. It is as if we have discovered oil, onshore or offshore and we were in the process of seeking to exploit that resource,” the Minister stated.

The Minister added that the geothermal project is intended to transform Dominica from a high price supplier of electricity to one of the lowest cost providers in the region, a major boost for existing operators and potential investors. It is also meant to at least minimise the country’s dependence on petroleum based products.

The Minister made the salient point that the total commitment of 8.5 million Euros leads to, but does not cover, the commercial exploitation of Dominica’s geothermal resource. It is expected that it would cost in the region of US$350 million for the full commercial exploitation of the resource.

By the end of the European Union funded project, the Government is expected to have all the technical, economic and financial information to interest potential investors in exploiting the geothermal resource of Dominica. The intention of Government is to develop a Public/Private partnership for the development of the island’s geothermal resource.


Category/ies:Dominica News.
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