Rwanda targets private firms in oil exploration on Lake Kivu

Rwanda is already extracting methane from the lake that lies in the same hydrocarbon-rich Albertine Graben, where neighboring Uganda has found 6.5 billion barrels of oil resources.

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Rwanda is contemplating partnering with private oil and gas companies for the next stage of exploring Lake Kivu for more hydrocarbons, a top official has disclosed.

Francis Gatare, Chief Executive Officer of Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board said that the country had completed the shallow drilling for geochemistry tests in the methane-gas-producing lake in the west of the country.

The move comes after Rwanda announced that it was pausing bids from international oil explorers as it plans to conduct its own geological survey to establish whether it is worthwhile for the state to enter into partnerships with foreign explorers.

“The stage we are at is low-cost and involves geochemical analysis in Lake Kivu through coring. Coring involves digging shallow wells that are about 10 metres deep, and testing the samples in laboratories to see if they show indications of oil,” Gatare explained.

Rwanda is already extracting methane from the lake that lies in the same hydrocarbon-rich Albertine Graben, where neighboring Uganda has found 6.5 billion barrels of oil resources.
The gas is already being converted into 26 megawatts of electricity for Rwanda at the KivuWatt power plant. Lake Kivu is estimated to hold 55 billion cubic meters of methane gas.

At the end of the second series of shallow drilling tests currently underway, the government will decide whether to partner with international oil explorers or continue with the task independently. “At the right time, when we have de-risked the exploration exercise, we will make it known to investors,” he said.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Rwanda is the world’s second-biggest producer of tantalum, a mineral extracted from coltan ore that’s used to make components in smartphones, and Africa’s third-largest tin miner.

The country seeks to grow its mineral earnings to $800 million from shipping an estimated 10,000 metric tons in 2020 and $1.5 billion from 14,000 tons in 2024.