Rwanda signs deal to extract methane gas from Lake Kivu

The Rwanda government have signed a US$400 million deal with Gasmeth Energy Ltd to extract, process, compress and also bottle methane gas from Lake Kivu. The signing of the seven years deal took place on Friday 1st February 2019 but was announced yesterday (5 February 2019).

At the signing ceremony, representing Rwandan government was; the Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB) and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). On the other hand, representing Gasmeth Energy was its CEO Stephen Tierney.

Gasmeth Energy will finance, construct and maintain a gas extraction plant on Lake Kivu. After extracting the methane gas from Lake Kivu and separating it from water; the gas will then be transported to an onshore plant where compressing and bottling will take place. This process will stop the toxic gas from fizzing to the surface.

Lake Kivu lies in the volcanic regions of the Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border. The 2,400 lake also known as killer lake, at between 270 – 500 meters depth contains about 60 billion cubic meters (m3) of dissolved methane gas (CH4). Scientist fear that eruption of this very dense clouds of methane gas (CH4) could kill residents along the shores of Lake Kivu. In Cameroon, the eruptions of some much smaller methane-emitting lakes, led to the death of a total of 1,800 persons.

Benefits from Lake Kivu

The Killer Lake has the capacity to generate 120 million to 150 million mof CH4 per annum, representing a power potential of 90 to 130 MW of electricity . The Methane gas from Lake Kivu is sufficient to generate 700 MW for 55 years. Rwanda’s share of the total generation will be 350 MW, while DRC will have the rest.

Rwanda already has two companies that extract gas from Lake Kivu to power electricity plants.

Clare Akamanzi, CEO of the Rwanda Development Board said, the bottled methane gas from Lake Kivu will help reduce reliance of Rwanda’s 12 million population on wood and charcoal. This project is also part of the country’s Green Agenda and efforts to reduce its natural gas import bill and increase gas exports.

Rwanda is currently spending huge sums on importing gas from African nations, like Tanzania and Kenya.

The affordable bottle gas is environmentally friendly; and can serve as clean fuel for households, tea and automotive industries instead of firewood. The bottle natural gas will also be distributed to local and international markets.

According to Akamanzi, although prices are yet unknown, the bottled gas should be on sale within two years.

The construction phase of the plant to extract methane gas from Lake Kivu will generate employment for 600-800 people. Also after construction Gasmeth Energy project will employ 400 persons.

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