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Meeting informs on slim-well drilling for geothermal project in St. Lucia

St Lucia - view of the Pitons from Anse Chastenet (source: flickr/ heatheronhertravels creative commons)


A recent stakeholder meeting on planned geothermal activities in St. Lucia in the Caribbean, brought out memories on earlier development efforts on the island. About 30 years ago, a blow out from these efforts still recalls memories and fears about what geothermal drilling could mean.

With a concise stakeholder engagement, the government together with private consultants and the World Bank is addressing these fears and assures that international standards will be followed, as reported by St. Lucia News.

As we reported before, Panorama Environmental, Inc. a San Francisco/ California – based environmental consultancy firm, completed an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for potential geothermal energy exploration in Soufriere in February 2018.

Last week, the Department of Sustainable Development, within the aforementioned ministry, hosted its fourth leg of public consultations at the Castries City Hall to explain the findings of the ESIA. Previously, discussions were held in communities in Soufriere which will be directly impacted by any geothermal exploration.

Although consultant Susanne Heim of Panorama Environmental, Inc., along with Aloysiaus Barthelmy who is the local geothermal technical coordinator and Mark Lambrides, a senior energy specialist from World Bank, could not give an in-depth analysis of what actually happened some thirty years ago, they were able to assure the Soufriere resident and other locals in attendance that the present Geothermal Resource Development Project will be safer and all necessary precautions will be made to prevent a similar blow out. By following World Bank regulations to prevent noise pollution and to sustain human and social rights, as well as keeping international standards of maintaining air and water quality, project coordinators promise a better outcome than the last recorded geothermal exploration phase. It was also constantly mentioned by Barthelmy that the last project was handled “by the British” as opposed to the World Bank this time around.

At Thursday’s consultation there was an overview of geothermal energy in Saint Lucia and its potential, delivered by Charlin Bodley, energy officer in the Department of Sustainable Development. It was an effort to explain general misconceptions about the project, as well as to help the public understand what exactly geothermal energy is and how it will contribute to the island’s development.

The project is at very early stages of development and only exploration work is planned for the moment. There are three areas identified for potential development, Fond St Jaques, Belle Plaine and Mondesir-Saltibus.

The plan is to drill three slim-hole wells at a cost of around $2.2 million per well. There are further community meetings planned to inform on next steps along the project development.

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