The start of exploration drilling for geothermal energy at the island of Dominica in the Caribbean is scheduled at the end of November or early December. Plans call for drilling of three 1000-1200 m deep wells. Two Icelandic companies, ÍSOR and Iceland Drilling (Jardboranir), were contracted by the local government to carry out the project. Iceland Drilling will be in charge of the drilling while ÍSOR will tend to environmental monitoring, geological consulting in connection with the drilling and well logging. Additionally, ÍSOR specialists will conduct discharge measurements and investigate the chemistry of geothermal fluid and steam.
A specially equipped truck from ÍSOR, which will be used for well logging, and a portable lab have been placed aboard a ship heading for Dominica. This is the first time that ÍSOR sends this kind of equipment out of Iceland. The drill Sleipnir, owned by Iceland Drilling, was also aboard the ship along with a variety of other equipment. Environmental monitoring in connection with the drilling starts now in November when a specialist from ÍSOR begins to collect samples from near the intended drilling site. The objective with this sample collection is to obtain background information so that comparison can be made with samples collected during the drilling and for a few months afterwards.
Considerable geothermal research has been conducted at Caribbean islands. ÍSOR has, for instance, counseled governments of the islands of Guadeloupe, Dominica and Nevis. The French earth science geological institute BRGM has investigated the possibility of geothermal exploitation at the island of Dominica, which is considered to be the ideal place to start exploration drilling because of its substantial geothermal potential.
Dominica is a volcanically active island with considerable surface manifestations of geothermal activity. The island has 70 thousand inhabitants with about 70-80% of its electricity at present produced with diesel generators. The country derives today about 20%-30% of its electricity from hydro facilities on the island. Great expectations are attached to the drilling as islanders hope that in the future electricity will be generated with geothermal energy. This would save valuable foreign currency and be more environmentally friendly.
According to ÍSOR geologist Dadi Thorbjörnsson, who has been involved in preparations for the project, the people of Dominica are highly conscious about their environment and the magnificent nature which can be found at the island, and are keen to monitor the potential effect of drilling on the surroundings. “The scale of the project is large for Dominica and can be compared to the development of the district heating services in Iceland.”
By: lxrichter (ThinkGeoenergy) – Picture: Rig Sleipnir of Iceland Drilling being prepared for shipping to Dominica (source: Iceland Drilling)
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