CASTRIES: The St. Lucia government says it will explore the development of the island’s geothermal resources at the Sulphur Springs in the west coast town of Soufriere.
“The Government of St. Lucia is very aggressively moving towards developing this geothermal resource for many reasons; we believe it gives us an excellent opportunity to bring down the price of electricity; secondly it gives us some buffer in volatility in world oil prices,” said Dr. James Fletcher, the Minister for Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology. “And the more we can move our dependence away from oil and diesel, then the better for us.”
Dr. Fletcher said the administration of Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony has been in discussions with a developer, but before the geothermal resource can be operationalized, it was necessary to equate a value to it.
“We felt it was important that the government has an idea of the value of that resource. So we asked the team from the World Bank to come down to do some investigations, using some of the studies that have already been done on the geothermal facility at the Sulphur Springs and to do some more intense investigations leading up to some exploratory drilling.
“We can then quantify that resource which will put us in a much better position when it is time to negotiate with the developer on how we value that resource and what sort of price we attach to the energy that we get out of that resource,” he said.
The World Bank team consists of energy, environmental and social development experts, who will assess technical issues and evaluate the impact of developing this resource on the people living in the area.
Another aspect of the project which is being given careful consideration is the location of the geothermal resource.
“The Sulphur Springs fall within the Piton Management Area and it is important that whatever we do, we do not compromise the integrity of the Piton Management Area,” said Fletcher.
However, he said he is optimistic of the geothermal resource’s potential.
“What we heard from the team was very encouraging. They seem to think that we have a very good resource on our hands. There are people on the team who have actually done some work and are very familiar with the geothermal resource.
“There are one or two challenges; our Sulphur Springs is a very aggressive chemical environment. The acidity there is quite high and that’s one of the things we have to look at – what would be the best place to drill so that you get around some of the aggressive chemical issues that we have, without compromising the quality of the wells,” said Fletcher.