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Geothermal Resource best news

Steam flowing from Well #1 (photo:courtesy -  Lana MacDonald)

by Bennette Roach


When Minister of State Allan Duncan in December, 2011 made his less than 24 hours visit to Montserrat arriving by ferry and departing by air, he brought perhaps the best news with respect to Montserrat’s future since the millennium began following the volcanic crisis and destruction of Montserrat from 1995.


The settling of a long outstanding issue of Government’s (GoM) to the Social Security Board, the value for money conditional support for development of Little Bay and Carrs Bay, assuring that Montserrat can sign the treaty which establishes the OECS Economic Union. Moreover, the best as far as the economic future of Montserrat was perceived, news of support for the beginning of exploration and development of ‘geothermal energy’.


Twenty months later, UK’s £8.5 million input (the initial cost of Gerald’s airport) it appears that the investment to support production well drilling for geothermal energy is on the verge of becoming what both UK DFID and the Premier Reuben T. Meade described as an “economic game changer” for Montserrat.


The Best News


And after misdirection, stuttering, stumbles, silence and accusations, the news broke on Wednesday that there was a noisy sound as steam hissed from a tank at the Well #1 site. Upon enquiry it was not to undo the good news, but one observer familiar with how it ought to sound to bring it to the stage of commercial viability, said, “I hope that the well is mostly capped and that this is just minor venting.” The explanation, “An Icelandic production well venting makes an enormous steam cloud and roars like a dragon!” Brings to mind the sounds when the steam pushed its way out at Soufriere Hills that July 18 night.


First information said that it would not be known before a few more days, “that the well is pretty productive…”


Cautioning against over-optimistic expectations, a source explained:  “They have pumped so much water into the well and at the moment it’s coming back out again.  What they want to find out is when the water stop coming out and it becomes the water which is being generated from underground and it’s starting to come up…” still hoping for even better news.


The temperature of the water at the surface has been increasingly and last reported at 298ºC, converts to approximately 568.4 ºF, from 290 ºC overnight. Director of Public Works Ron Beardsley speaking officially on the matter said that tests at the base of the well earlier read 235 ºC.


The good news is that the report is, “it looks very favorable.” That is the best news to date. ZJB Radio calls it a, “major breakthrough in geothermal exploration in Montserrat.”


Beardsley in a statement dated Thursday, revealed, “This Well finally started flowing to the surface yesterday.  It continued to flow overnight and everything is looking very positive.”


He confirms our source as he follows up, intending not to be over confident, “It is still too early to confidently say that we have a commercially viable well. However,” he said, “The signs are very encouraging.”


The Director who, naturally serves on the Geothermal Unit says, the intention is, “to let it continue to flow for a few days to monitor temperature and pressure.”


In this statement, Beardsley says, that the next step will be to carry out specialist long-term testing.  This will be carried out over several weeks and will determine the chemical composition of the geothermal fluids, as well as the temperature and pressure from the resource.  This critical data will inform the design of the most cost-effective generation plant for our location.  It will also give an estimate of the long term capacity of the resource.  The long term testing will be carried out over the next couple of months.


This good news comes after several weeks of coaxing and searching with the belief that the resource was there, while the wait as expressed above will be to determine the capacity of the resource.


But the next question. What about Well #2? Can they just do the same and hope? The project managers sensing they need to take action as reported last week had sought to improve on the drilling to date, being carried out by the Icelandic Drilling Company Ltd.


The information as confirmed by Beardsley, is that the light-weight pipe that they have, will allow them to go down at least 3000 meters, “and that’s with the rig that they have, can do,” one source commented.


Beardsley reported that the rig “has now been repaired and the drilling team resumed operations last night (Wednesday night).”


He said the Well will be cleaned out and lined down to its current depth of 2347 meters.  That the intention is to carry on drilling a little deeper to provide further geological data.  He concludes, “The drilling operation on Montserrat should be fully completed within the next two weeks.”


While all the news sounds great there is still some nervousness of the unknown possible result, that the activity to be carried out at Well #2. “I don’t know what’s the difference going down to 3,000 meters might make!” our source said nervously.


He explained, “Well, because it may not make any difference at all. It is possible to go pass the heat source – for the temperature to decrease. It doesn’t have to increase.” The suggestion is, that while being near to the resource it can be in any direction away from the hole.


That however, everyone agrees, is that there is great news. Everything seems set for potentially greater news by the end of October.



Category/ies:Montserrat News, News.
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