Fri 16th Apr 2021


Geothermal drilling and La Soufriere eruption – any link?

On 2nd April 2019, The Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal BSc (hons), MSc, MBA, wrote to His Excellency, The Governor General of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines expressing concerns about the geothermal project in SVG.

Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal BSc (hons), MSc, MBA, wrote ‘The proposed geothermal plant is a risk to our drinking water and agriculture. The environmental effects may be temporary or irreversible and may include changes to the landscape and land use, by gaseous emissions into the atmosphere, on surfaces and subsurface water, land subsidence and seismic activity’.

La Soufriere last erupted in 1979. For over 40 years, the volcano has been silent and there were no problems for our country. Then the ULP regime’s geothermal project started and very deep drilling was taking place into the volcano. Many people are asking whether there is a link between the geothermal drilling and the La Soufriere eruption.

In May 2006, the eruption of the Lusi mud volcano in Indonesia was caused by drilling for oil and gas, a meeting of 74 leading geologists concluded. In this case, it was argued that the 2,500m-deep bore hole ruptured limestone rock, containing pressurised water. As the lower part of the borehole was not protected by casing, this forced water and mud into the rocks surrounding the well. The pressure in the well went way beyond what it could tolerate... and it triggered the volcano.

An award of millions of dollars of compensation was shared by families who lost their homes and livelihood. One wonders how much compensation families and farmers in SVG may be due, because of any losses to their health or agricultural output.

The geothermal project should never been approved for operation in SVG. Millions of dollars were wasted on a useless project and it was a big risk for our country. Now our country must suffer the consequences. It was madness.

One wonders how long the effect of this eruption of La Soufriere will affect our people. How badly will the ash from the eruption affect our drinking water supply in SVG? How badly will the ash from the eruption affect our food supply in SVG and our agricultural lands?

SVG is in a very vulnerable and unsafe position. The economy has been weak for 20 years and our country is running out of money. On top of that, if we have no food and drinking water for any length of time, we will probably be unable to buy water and food from abroad to feed all our people.

It is a disaster which many people feel may have been caused by the drilling in the volcano carried out by the geothermal project.

Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal BSc (hons), MSc, MBA, who lived in the area known as Lot 14 in St. Vincent with his parents where the geothermal drilling was conducted, is making a very strong demand for a similar geologist public inquiry, as in May 2006 of the Lusi volcano in Indonesia, and that the ULP regime pay substantial compensation to the people of SVG who suffer loss of health, property or income due to this volcano eruption.

If the La Soufriere eruption was a consequence of the drilling of the geothermal project, then Gonsalves and the whole ULP government should resign immediately.

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