French company, EDF, reported to have withdrawn from Dominica’s geothermal project

Geothermal testing in the Roseau Valley
Geothermal testing in the Roseau Valley

Dominica’s geothermal energy project could be facing a major set back in light of French media reports of a supposed withdrawal by  Electricite de France (EDF) from the project.

According to France Antilles, the main daily newspaper in Martinique, reports surrounding that move by the Paris-based, largest utility company in the world, have left other project partners startled about the reasons for the withdrawal and fearful about the effects of that decision.

With €65.2 billion in revenues in 2010, EDF operates a diverse portfolio of over 120,000 megawatts(MW) of generation capacity in Europe, South America, North America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa and has been identified as a possible major partner in facilitating the export of Dominica’s geothermal power to Martinique and Guadeloupe.

EDF started on a path towards privatization some years ago but as of 2008, the French government still owned 85% of the company’s shares.

News of the company’s decision to withdraw from the project has evoked strong reaction from politicians in Martinique.  President of the Regional Council on Martinique, Serge Letchimy, has written to French President Francois Hollande, stating, “It is with surprise that I learnt that the president EDF has announced the discontinuation of this public enterprise from the project to build a geothermal plant in Dominica in which it had as partners the State of Dominica, Guadeloupe and Martinique regions, L’ADEME, BRGM, AFD and several private French enterprises”

L’ADEME is the French agency responsible for the environment and the control of energy, BRGM, Office for Geological Research and Mining and AFD, the French AID Agency.

The letter continues, “this project which aims to provide 50 MW to Martinique and 50 MW to Guadeloupe, thus reducing their dependence on fossil energies while at the same time saving CSPE (a French taxing mechanism to subsidize electricity rates where necessary) close to 100 million Euros per year, would allow our neighbour, Dominica, to be supplied entirely with green energy.”

Dominica has stated its intention to target a potential output of about 120 MW of geothermal power, 100 MW of which, is to be exported.

Letchimy points out in his letter, “the main reason invoked by the president of EDF has to do with the low profitability of this investment in Dominica…..another reason is that EDF seems to want to concentrate its investments in other projects.”

Some people with knowledge of the energy industry in the OECS believe that the “other projects” include a pipeline by Eastern Caribbean Gas Pipeline company (ECGP) that will bring natural gas from Trinidad and Tobago through Barbados on to St. Lucia, Martinique and Guadeloupe, construction of which is scheduled to begin next year.

A World Bank report on Caribbean Regional Electricity Generation , Interconnection, and Fuels Supply Strategy concludes that the cost to Martinique and Guadeloupe of receiving their fuel from this pipeline would be marginally more than the cost of geothermal power from Dominica.

The President of the Martinique Regional Council admonishes President Hollande that “a decision of such magnitude taken without previous consultation seems to be an unacceptable condescension towards the entire group of partners in this operation, starting with the Dominican State, and in total contradiction with the political engagements which you have taken towards the overseas departments.”

Letchimy expresses complete disagreement with EDF’s decision, reminding Hollande of his stated desire for the development of regional co-operation.

“I will take at the appropriate time, in accord with the Martiniquans, the initiatives which are authorised by economic diplomacy in order to further the economic and social recovery of Martinique.” Letchimy’s letter concludes.

However, one energy industry  observer told DNO that Dominica still has a good negotiating position since both  Regional Councils have actually put finances into the Dominica geothermal project and also because the project is actually on stream while the ECGP has yet to break ground. He further pointed out that gas is a non-renewable resource which means that the supply could diminish in the future with costs of recovery going up while geothermal power has potentially perpetual life .

DNO will seek comment from the Dominica government on this latest development which threatens to affect the country’s geothermal project.

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49 Comments

  1. Rastar-Marn
    April 16, 2013

    lol wait nuh so check this out 120 MW production and 100 MW is suppose to be exported making that 20 MW left to share among Dominicans right???

    Marn stand to be corrected, but wiff the numbers involved, that shows 83% of the Power will be exported wi leaving 17% to share on Dominica,,,

    Dat doesn’t sound to allyou dat mista dem just coming to build a power plant for dem???

    Garçon Marn doh care what school you go to, or even if you didn’t go to school but this is like your fadah go work hard all day in Garden and bring home food for your modah to cook and when she cook it all dem neighbors getting the best part of the food leaving you wiff d cacashare wi,,,

    Now what allyou think will happen when D french Pardeners dem have an 83% interest in some entity, who you tink will be d owners of dat plant???

    Now next question to Dominica’s Chief Financial Officer: this will be a valid example of the concept of Value Added commodity right???

    Has anyone pointed out what kind of revenue this endeavor would generate for the VAT concept???

  2. April 16, 2013

    does it have to do with the take of light&power

  3. Pedro
    April 15, 2013

    DNO must be commended for its great work bringing the news fast, detailed and well edited.

    • Kubulol
      April 16, 2013

      Not only DNO
      Some readers too ; but they seem to have been forgotten by DNO that did not make any reference to them ( not even a little thanks by e_mail)

  4. miss DA
    April 15, 2013

    what happen i eh seeing my comment.did i offend any body party…to god b the glory amen

  5. Anthony P. Ismael
    April 15, 2013

    Irrespective of the actual reasons why EDF pulled out from this venture, we’re witnessing the share difficulty that small developing nations have to deal with, when trying to develop new industries.
    Because we lack expertise and capital funding for such ventures, we are left at the mercy of international and foreign conglomerates to complete such ventures. Lacking the ability to sometimes roll the dice and hope for a particular outcome once again left us behind the eight-ball.

    • UDOHREADYET
      April 15, 2013

      with every risk their is reward. the same conglomerates and developed nations you speak of… got their talent and expertise from expatriates leaving those developing nations. Brain drain is an issue for all developing nations but we should never think or consider that we are in anyway incapable of achieving the same or higher successes that some countries now enjoy.

    • Rastar-Marn
      April 16, 2013

      Garçon wiff d Right Request for Proposal and D right sales peach the Chief Financial Officer of Dominica could sell dat concept to any Utility on this Globe,,,

      And wiff the whole drive and boost there is dis day for renewable Energy Mista could take dat concept to any major financial institution and get funding, if dey can run underground cables to Martinique and Guadeloupe can they not extend dem elsewhere???

      Dis plant will be a residual-income generator with one initial investment to create profits for a very long time,,,

      Some people juss lack ingenuity and cannot tink outside the box,,,
      And dey busy trying to depend on a Service industry to boost Dominica’s revenue so there you have it!!!

      Is not dat small nations “is left at the mercy of international and foreign conglomerates” is that their power brokers don’t want to be more aggressive,,,

      Brazil a much smaller economy than United States, arguably have made more advances in the renewable fuel concepts for the automotive industry than the Americans have done,,,

  6. Anonymous
    April 15, 2013

    There was the EIA which was made public after a lot of cry… but where is the FINAL REPORT of phase I drilling and exploration operations. I suspect within this report we will find out why the EDF pulled out. For example, during the drilling what went good, excellent and what did actually go bad without repair!!!! I hear people of Laudat saying that the test drill well is letting off gases already and there are visible signs of corrosion to some of the pipes…. Where is the FINAL REPORT of phase I.

  7. Rule # 1
    April 15, 2013

    Confessions from an Economic Hit Man are written all over this story!!!!

    I am not a racist but I have a low level of trust doing business with white people.

    Maybe is my tendency to be suspicious but it is interesting to me to see WRB leaving Domlec when such a news story breaks out!!!

    DNO , I hope you all have investigative journalist to let us know if WRB was ever a partner in the geothermal project to begin with. What are the reasons for WRB selling out from Domlec at this time? What was the selling price that WRB received for its shares? Where can one see the financials of WRB in Dominica? Under what name is the new owner of Domlec registered in Dominica? Trust me I have looked and nobody cannot give me an answer from the company registry or them playing games with me.

    Will the new owners of Domlec and the previous owners of Domlec signal an interest to acquire a stake in the geothermal project and demand a rate of return like how Domlec was given a guaranteed rate of return under UWP?

    Boy I would laugh Blackmore and all those so called experts that always know best for Dominica!!!! The stones you rejected earlier like the USA may come now to be your chief savior and nothing changes for the better for citizens.

    Those white men going and make washway and his pals front for them. Mark my word.

    Rule # 1 when poor countries like Dominica trying and make big move for economic independence you must never dis the USA. USA can take bread from your mouth – make Ross pull out, make WRB sell out from Domlec, nearly make Maduro get a narrow elction victory after Chavez death with opposition demanding a recount and getting Maduro to cut social and economic lagese ties with Dominica. USA can make you loos elections by grounding all flights schedule to leave USA for Dominicans to come home and vote. You better make sure your people on island 6 days before. :mrgreen:

    • Anonymous
      April 15, 2013

      Really who are you kidding -remember you may not trusr the white man but you are happy to take his money.These men are astute business men and they want a return on there investment.

    • Anonymous
      April 16, 2013

      First time I comment here. I am very much concerned how the geothermal project will be developed. This is very valuable resource which should be in the ownership of the Dominican people. If this will be harnessed in the right manner, it will lead to big reduction to the electricity prices for the homes and for light industries and eventually increase the GNP of the Island.
      In order to enhance competition in the energy market now there is a new legislation in Europe saying that the distributor of Electricity and the producer has to be two independent and separate companies. In other words the owner of the distribution system has to allow other producers of electricity to use the system and compete.
      Therefore why should DOMLEC be involved in the development of the Geothermal project? At least DOMLEC has to be devided into two companies, one for generation of energy and the other one for distribution.
      Anyway if EDF will not continue to develop the project in Wotten Waven, there are other investor who would be happy to continue. In my opinion government of Dominica should be in the steering position and control the development having knowledgeable partners helping them through the process. Look at how the small Island in Iceland have developed their geothermal projects since 1960.

  8. Krazy
    April 15, 2013

    i think it’s much more than what they told us, do u think that they would really wanna let us know exactly what transpire for them to pull out.. NO.
    anyway i smell a RAT.

    then this lady came out to speak on the geothermal volcanic activity in the south…
    i guess we will see the result soon.. sooner than we expect tooo. :oops:

  9. Sunny Boy
    April 15, 2013

    Good move by la France….put away that #**++#’# project once and for all….there are other and better alternatives for the energy needs of a population of under 100k with NO heavy industry.. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

    • Anonymous
      April 15, 2013

      short sighted foul

      • K
        April 15, 2013

        lol

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
    • huh?
      April 15, 2013

      Are you seriously such stupid? Do us all a favor, stop read DNO’s comments for two weeks. Instead concentrate of doing some research and reading and you may see why Geothermal my be our best choice.
      I stand to be corrected so correct me.

  10. new york
    April 15, 2013

    if it was given to the french EDF for free they could have take it that’s the white man for u

  11. Anonymous
    April 15, 2013

    dont worry my ppl, when oil run out they will cum by us.

  12. Peeping Tom
    April 15, 2013

    Thanks for the article, DNO. I found it adequately comprehensive. I look forward to you keeping us updated, especially with the government’s view.

    There is a bigger story here, which deserves some research. First, EDF would not have committed to the project on a whim. It would have studied it and agreed that it was in France’s interest. Now, it appears to have given up on the project because it does not believe that it is in France’s interest to invest. Yet, it opts to invest more money in a natural gas project. Is the secret in the detail, i.e. the concessions that EDF may have been offered as a partner in this project?

    The news does not seem good but EDF’s absence does not mean the absence of another suitable partner (or partners). As the saying goes, when one door is closed, another will open. Besides, EDF’s absence could well provide “diasporans” who have the requisite capital to invest in the project. After all, they have always claimed to have Dominica’s development at heart. Well, now could be a golden opportunity for them to renew their efforts and put their words into action. So, I am optimistic that EDF’s absence will not derail this project. This government will work to ensure its success, probably even on a less ambitious scale, because its success is of supreme national interest.

  13. Mamizoo
    April 15, 2013

    It is strange that the EDF is claiming that the geothermal project could provide over €100 million Yet they decided to back off . I get the feeling that there is much more to it than just a blanket statement that the project will not be profitable.
    Major buisness corporation like EDF cannot be operating like gun slingers by getting into a business venture without due diligence. What could have changed from the time the EDF jumped into the game to the time of exit. Certainly it is not the price of gas that changed or could it be that the geothermal energy gods have decided to change the subsurface dynamics.

    • Anonymous
      April 16, 2013

      look at it this way, that is a potential 100 euros less profit for them, why would they want that? Something else is fishy in that there was mention of a pipeline from Trinidad. If that is more viable then I am feeling that the Trinidadians may just be stabbing us in the back somehow with a deal.
      Dominica always feels like and has been the abandoned child. Time we start doing things for ourselves since our partners are not helping

  14. Sahib
    April 15, 2013

    If this project was to really come thru I am still wondering how much would Dominicans really profit from this seeing we seem to be selling our other natural resources so cheap? Honestly I think it is a great business venture.

  15. Country Man
    April 15, 2013

    There are a number of factors to be considered for financing and developing geothermal power plants which EDF knows first hand. From where I sit this approach to geothermal power development is not not optimal in term of cost of energy and environmental impact. The drilling depth in excess of 1 miles for geothermal resource in Dominica will result is salt water intrusion along with all the other corrosive elements/gases. Managing such a corrosive resource would make the life cycle cost of the geothermal power plant unacceptably high which translates to little or no reduction in the cost of energy. In addition to that the cost of submarine transmission cable have been going up exponentially due to the demand of such cable for offshore wind projects and also the increase in the cost of copper. Then you have to add in the operating and maintenance cost for the transmission system which is very expensive by all estimates and it is expected to be more expensive in our region because of the high salinity of our water and our remoteness(we need access to submarine crew with special divers to provide O&M services for the transmission system which is very expensive even in Europe and N. America). When you bundle these cost issues one can see that this is not an attractive deal. I sometimes wonder who are these experts the world bank uses for analyzing such projects – no wonder they get so many projects wrong at the expense of poor developing countries. In my view Dominica and its government should be looking at shallower production wells for the development of geothermal power in Dominica. This would result in a cleaner resource which could power a 10 – 15 MW binary geothermal power plant (preferably 2 – 3 ORC close loop power plants – minimal environmental impact) which which has a much greater potential of reducing the cost of energy to all Dominicans. The data from the exploration work that has been done shows that the temperature at ~ 600 meters is capable of such a power plant development. I say let’s begin with our energy development for our use (charity begins at home) and forget about this exportation of power for now. Maybe in the future technology will allow for power export at a optimal economical and environmental cost – but as of today it is not so and EDF knows that – the numbers don’t pencil out.

  16. Anonymous
    April 15, 2013

    Isnt that what we wanted? I hope nobody complains since geothermal will no longer cause earthquakes

  17. sexy
    April 15, 2013

    as we say we a doom :mrgreen:

  18. Fig Root
    April 15, 2013

    Man labour really squeezing DA

  19. Whistler
    April 15, 2013

    So everything Labour tries in Dominica is a Failure!

    My Best advice is to remove this Labour Regime by All cost…the Longer Labour remains in Power, Dominica will be no longer…

    Thing is Labour has not track record of Implementing Anything that the island citizens benefit..

    Labour is always into some sort of crooked Arrangement…They Brought on the Chinese and Poverty in Dominica went of faster than the Launch Of than a rocket of it’s launch pad!

    When you view this Present Labour Party they all About themselves then feeding the masses with Lies And Excuses and the use of the word of God to Pool Wool over those who are educated fools or and the Less fortunate in the Society…

    Labour HAS MADE DOMINICA A CURSED ISLAND!

    • Dominica_Lover
      April 15, 2013

      Wow, these are options. however,this project is still beneficial to the island reducing its own dependency on fossil fuel.

    • /////////////////
      April 15, 2013

      Whistler get a life and read the news item properly. Do u also read??? Every nation / Country / Company have their own challenges. Stop politicing this and look at the issue objectively.

      You with your non brain hear mouth is actually trying to curse the country. This country will prevail in the Name of Jesus. Our beloved people will come together regardless of their political affiliation and chant and Shout – Praise the Name of the Lord for he alone is worthy of all praise… We will repent of our sins and our foul mouthedness and gossip and we will all shout onto the Lord and say “Lord Bless Dominica” Dominica is yours as we have seen prophesised by many. Dominica is the Lord’s. Lord we as a nation, as a people has been so ungrateful to you… We are sorry for not blessing our land after so much you have done for us and provided us with. When we look at other states and island we say to you “Worthy is the Lamb” and we thank you for your blessings over Dominica. We will appreciate the small things as we await the bigger things to come. Amen. Dominica is blessed.

      We also ask you Father to shew your mercy on the other parts of the Nation that is going through sruggles worse off than ours. Let the fear of the Lord fall over those areas that you Name will be glorified and bless them so they will be a blessing to other. All this I asked for in Jesus Name.

    • Joker
      April 15, 2013

      Idiot!!

  20. concerned
    April 15, 2013

    whaooh, doesn’t sound so good. lost of income for Dominica. Mr PM go back on the table to negociate.

  21. Dominican4L
    April 15, 2013

    Well that can be a blessing in disguise. Now that a new company has bought the shares of WRB and they are interested in geothermal and the government had not yet included “Domlec” in the discussions/negotiations/arrangements now is the time to start afresh? DONT WE THINK SO????

  22. kjf
    April 15, 2013

    DNO you are to late I post a comment on the last week!

    Admin: We thought it first necessary to bring you a substantive story on the matter before publishing comments

  23. Richards
    April 15, 2013

    One can conclude or infer that the thesis of this report is that the company, Electricite de France (EDF), is suddenly not impressed with the revenue and profit projections of this geothermal endeavour.

    • lolz
      April 15, 2013

      Sounds like they trying to rob the poor people. No profit for them = no project for us.

  24. TRUEMAN
    April 15, 2013

    ***VERY INTERESTING***

    “The letter continues “this project which aims to provide 50 MW to Martinique and 50 MW to Guadeloupe, thus reducing their dependence on fossil energies …….

    ………………

    This is just speculation on my part but, there is alot of money to be LOST by the providers of fossil fuel should this project succeed.

    I can only imagine that these providers has big connections. It would be in their interest to see this project fail!!

    I hope that this project will continue for the economic betterment of us islanders-DA,Mart & Guad.

    But remember, this prohject is making some people nervous. The profit margin in the fossil fuel business is being threatened!!

    Again, I am just…………. speculating!!

    What do you think?

    -Thanks

    • Country Man
      April 15, 2013

      We should not speculate – I think this project is not economical period. BTW if I am not mistaken EDF has the largest nuclear power asset in the world so they are not really deep into the fossil fuel business as you would like to suggest. They also own a significant amount of renewable energy assets around the globe – like enXco for example.

    • /////////////////
      April 15, 2013

      Trueman yes indeed you are making much sense. When The fossil energy profit margin is threatened, then man can become very dirty… The heart of men is wicked without the Holy Spirit indwelled within them. Man can go to the extreme when some development affects their own business etc. Just saying

  25. Shameless
    April 15, 2013

    Hmmmmmmm…. 8-O 8-O 8-O !

    Assertive NOT Agressive!

  26. Cerberus
    April 15, 2013

    From what I can make out, EDF have categorically decided not to make any capital investment in the project in Dominica. This would remove any obligation from them to use this source if- and when it comes on stream, leaving their options open. This may include electricity from a geothermal plant in Dominica but not necessarily so and leaving EDF in the driving seat. In other words, they would dictate the price they are would be willing to pay us, very much dependent on other alternatives available to them. From a business point of view this makes eminent sense and I’m afraid that in this case we may well have sold the bear’s skin before killing it first.

  27. legba
    April 15, 2013

    The french have always been a major oppressor of the black nations,Hence that move.

    • Malgraysa
      April 15, 2013

      Pathetic, are not the black citizens of Guadeloupe and Martinique French too? Time to move on.

      • legba
        April 15, 2013

        The majority of people in the government has been and still is White European, big companys also own by white europeans.Hence ruling class White Europeans

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 8
    • no name
      April 15, 2013

      You must be dumb

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