The West Indies Power Limited’s (WIP) Nevis geothermal project is expected to move to its second phase in the first quarter of 2009. This was disclosed by the Minister of Communication, Works, Public Utilities and Posts, Carlisle Powell while touring the site. WIP Nevis Limited Chief Executive Officer Kerry McDonald, confirmed that the company’s drill team will be heading out to Saba next week to commence exploratory drilling on that island.

McDonald also added that Nevis will see them replaced by the arrival of a production drill rig crew.

“The second phase would be production drilling, so you’d be seeing a different type of drill rig, and you definitely will be seeing more than just a slim hole being drilled at the three different drill sites. It says to Nevisians that we are getting closer, that this phase of it is over [exploration phase], and we are now ready to move on to phase two.”

“Once we complete all the documentation then, it means that we are ready to move on very quickly to phase 3, not only with the production drilling but getting the plant ready so that we can move on to that stage which would put us closer to having geothermal energy. It also means that we are much closer to getting rid of that fuel surcharge,” McDonald, said.

Powell congratulated energy commissioner Bruce Zager and geologist Trudy Hall on making the bold step of exploring for geothermal energy.

Zager said that the primary purpose of his visit to Nevis was not only see the sites but to see what would be in store for Saba once the geothermal process started.

“They will be drilling the holes over there [Saba] in the next 60 to 90 days and they will then go on to Dominica. They will be replaced with the production drill rig crew who will be here in March/April.

“They will be drilling the production holes that will feed the production holes that will feed the actual plant up at Nevis 1. The construction of the plant will also start in March and April and as I said we plan to have the 10 Megawatts that will supply the other power for Nevis by the first half of 2010,” McDonald said.

McDonald further continued that although the skills required for the production phase of the project are not available on Nevis, some 60 specialists would be arriving and would assist in training locals to work with the project.

“The employment on that 10megawatt plant will be roughly 40 jobs for locals. In addition, we will have to import about 60 specialists. The plant will be at Springhill, Nevis 1,” McDonald said.