Geothermal exploration activities in the Roseau Valley moved to another stage on Tuesday April 17, 2012 with the test of a third well.
Back in December 2011 the Government of Dominica launched the Roseau Valley Geothermal Project a major geothermal exercise geared at assisting Dominica in its efforts to move away from use of fossil fuel for energy generation.
The objective of the project is to confirm the extent and quality of the potential geothermal resource at the Roseau Valley and to determine the capacity of wells for sustainable commercial exploitation in generating electricity power.
The Government of Dominica decided that three test wells will be drilled in the Roseau Valley Catchment area to a depth of approximately 1.2 kilometers. To date two wells have already been drilled and explored with encouraging result.
The contracts for the nearly $17 million project were signed in July 2011 between an Icelandic company and the government of Dominica to carry out the exploratory project.
Local project Coordinator, Jason Timothy at the start of the drilling exercise in December 2011 said that Government was taking all measures to ensure that the project had limited impact on the environment.
“We have taken all precautions that we believe should be taken at the moment. There was an environmental impact assessment conducted which gave an indication of some of the challenges. Several mitigation measures have been put in place for example the drilling mud and water is being re circulated. It is not being taken out and dumped. We are re circulating and reusing as much as possible to protect the environment,” he said.
Will Osborne of Geothermal Resource Group responsible for supervising the well testing operation on well number three, say environmental safety is paramount and confirmed that all safety measures are being factored into the project.
“As Dominica starts its geothermal program, it’s important to install a safety culture. There are a number of hazards involved, obviously the two big ones are burns due to hot water and the toxic gas so we have to be concerned about that stuff. We want to install the safety culture so that anytime these guys open up these wells they think about the dangers of the toxic gas”.
During the testing exercise of well number three the site was secured to ensure that only operators involved in the exercise had access to the site.
Since the start of the geothermal testing exercise residents of Laudat have been sensitized to exactly what is happening at the Laudat geothermal exploratory sites and there have been attempts to address their fears and concerns. The project officials have assured residents through sensitization meetings that the noise levels will be negligible from about 400 meters away from the drill site.
Following the test on well number three, unofficial reports indicate that that site number three so far has shown the most potential.
The $5-million geothermal project is funded by the French Development Agency and the European Union. The works to improve the access to the site, however, are funded by the Government of Dominica.