by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Nevis Island Administration (NIA) initially set a start date to start the drilling phase of Nevis’ geothermal project with USD$17 million in grant funding from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
In an update on the progression of plans to start drilling in June, the Premier of Nevis, Hon. Mark Brantley, said a meeting was held with Nevis Electricity Company recently, and the bidding process for the drilling has come to a close. Over 30 companies expressed interest in the project initially.
A change in how the tender was sent out to the public saw some three companies bidding and under evaluation.
“They said they have four different components for the project that they put out, and therefore, the 30 plus companies, some of them are specialists in only one of those areas. So, for example, going back to the example I use for this building, some people showed interest, saying okay, we know roofs, or we do A/C, so they showed interest in the A/C component of it. They later changed – that is NEVLEC – and they asked for a single bid on the entire project on the understanding that whoever the successful bidder was could then subcontract out to others for various components, and a lot of those companies, therefore, fell out because, even though I’m a specialist in airconditioning, doesn’t mean that I know how to do foundation or the roof. So this sort of reduced the number considerably, and I’m told at the end, three companies bid on the entire project.”
Brantley said evaluations should be completed with a decision to be communicated to the public by June 30.
Regarding the start date for the drilling, based on the availability of drill rigs (equipment needed to start the drilling process), the Premier said one is available in December and the other in January 2024. Thus drilling is expected to commence at the end of 2023.
Additionally, the Premier said more work is needed in the expected communities to be affected before the drilling commences.
“I would want the public to understand that there’s some work to be done. There’re some lands in the area to be acquired; there’s some road works to be done to put in the road because when the [drill] comes, it will need to be able to traverse that particular pathway to get to the site. And then those individuals who have lands in the immediate vicinity of the drilling; we’re trying to acquire those lands so as to make them a part of the project as opposed to having people having lands right next to the project – those lands in terms of noise and drilling and what comes from drilling – we feel that it would be better for those lands to be in the possession of the government. So we’re trying to negotiate now with landowners to acquire those lands in that immediate vicinity, and we’re talking about the Hamilton area.”
Another issue is water, as the already scarce resource would be necessary for the drilling process for the geothermal well.
“The drilling is going to require additional water. So when I spoke to water earlier, I spoke to water in the context of our water supply for our consumption. But we are also going to have to get additional water for the drilling. And so we are hoping to start drilling for water very soon to feed into that timeline as well. But when we drill, we’re drilling for water that is going to both the geothermal project and the water needs for the people of Nevis.”
The Premier shared that despite the water woes, Nevis’s infrastructure is being built to address the water situation, including public water catch mechanisms to help supplement the domestic supply. However, the premier shared that the central issue of requiring additional water must still be addressed through water treatment, digging of new wells and desalination.