Iceland drill firm tapped for EPI Mindoro project

by Riza T.  Olchondra, 27 April 2015
from Philippine Daily Inquirer

EMERGING Power Inc. (EPI), an affiliate of Nickel Asia Corp., has tapped one of Iceland’s leading drilling companies for its $185-million Montelago Geothermal Power Project in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro.

“We are tapping Iceland Drilling Corp. (IDC) to ensure a technically superior work in our 40-MW geothermal project in Oriental Mindoro,” Martin Antonio G. Zamora, EPI chair and SVP of marketing and strategic planning of Nickel Asia.

Under a multimillion dollar deal inked by EPI and IDC on April 20, the drilling company is contracted to drill two to 12 wells to produce the planned 40-MW power for the Montelago geothermal plant.

“With the signing of the contract, IDC will now be involved with EPI to ensure the readiness of the site for the arrival and assembly of the drilling equipment. Drilling of the first exploration well is expected to commence on July 15, 2015,” Zamora said.

IDC will be using a Geysir Drillmec HH-20SS equipment, which is a trailer mounted, fast moving, automatic, hydraulic rotary drilling rig with a drilling depth capability of 4,000 meters, EPI said.

The equipment was previously used in a geothermal drilling project in Biliran.

EPI said IDC was chosen after a comprehensive six-month selection process.

The company awarded the drilling contract to IDC because its rig’s technical capability matched drilling plan requirements; competitive pricing and payment terms; the availability and proximity of IDC equipment stationed in-country; and experience in the Philippines.

This came after EPI conducted a successful exploration drilling of its well pads in Oriental Mindoro, which were found to be capable of producing 40 megawatts of power for the Montelago geothermal plant in 2016.

NAC has ventured into renewable energy through EPI. It recently exercised its option to convert a loan extended to EPI to a controlling stake in the firm as the mining firm moved to diversify to the renewable energy business.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, NAC said its board of directors approved the conversion of its one-year P446 million loan to EPI into equity.

The conversion of the loan corresponds to an initial 55-percent ownership in EPI.

NAC said its board had likewise approved an additional investment of P474 million, to be made in stages, to further raise its stake in EPI to 66 percent.

EPI’s other renewable energy projects are the 10-MW solar project in Camarines Sur, a 2.5-MW biogas project in Quezon; and a 10-MW solar and bunker hybrid project in Northern Palawan.

Founded in 1986, IDC gained a dominant share in the Icelandic market through years of successful work in Iceland’s major power companies.

It has numerous international drilling operations including those on Faeroe Islands, England, Portugal, Hungary, Bavaria, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Philippines.