Rwanda, DRC in deal to Manage Lake Kivu Methane Gas Exploration

Kibuye Power 1, which the Rwandan and Congolese officials toured on Thursday, has the capacity to produce 3.5 megawatts of methane gas energy. (Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti)

Effective exploration of methane gas in Lake Kivu will boost electricity generation in both Rwanda and DR Congo, increase economic growth in both countries and reduce the potential danger caused by a possible methane gas explosion.

This was said, Thursday, by government officials from Rwanda and DR Congo while signing a Memorandum of Understanding under which the two countries committed to the protection of Lake Kivu and extraction of methane gas in a way that would not affect the environment and the population living around the lake.

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Minister Germaine Kamayirese exchanges documents with her counterpart Aime Ngoi after the signing of MoU in Rubavu.

Speaking at the event in Rubavu District, Rwanda’s State Minister in charge of Energy and Water, Germaine Kamayirese, said the last agreement between Rwanda and DR Congo on the management of the lake served between 2007 and 2009.

She said the current memorandum of understanding is meant to ensure that the exploration of methane gas by either country is done scientifically, following guidelines established by a joint technical team set up to ensure ecological safety.

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Minister Kamayirese and minister Aime Ngoi with other officials after signing the MoU.

“If there in an error in gas exploration, it might cause a catastrophe,” Kamayirese said.

“Studies have shown that the lake can produce up to 700 megawatts of electricity daily from methane gas that should be shared equally. We need to respect all the necessary guidelines in the extraction of methane gas so that we don’t waste a crucial resource,” she added.

The long-awaited KivuWatt Methane Energy Plant on Lake Kivu was finally connected to the national grid this month, with early testing of the power plant generating up to 22 megawatts against its 25-megawatt capacity.

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A technician at Kibuye Power 1 explains to the officials how methane gas is extracted from the lake during the tour at the project premises between the lake. (Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti)

Kinshasa upbeat on methane gas

While Rwanda has made strides in its methane gas projects, officials from the DR Congo government say although they haven’t started exploration they are committed to starting as soon as possible.

According to Aimé Ngoi Mukena Lusa Desiré, the Congolese Minister in charge of hydrocarbons, Kinshasa would follow Rwanda’s steps to ensure the extraction of methane gas in Lake Kivu starts and that the population benefits from the natural resource.

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Minister Ngoi from DR Congo asks questions on how the extraction of methane gas works as other officials follow. 

“The population needs electricity but also they need to be protected; we’ve already fulfilled all requirements and we are in the process of looking for a company to start from our side,” Lusa said. “We are looking for financial and technical capacities to designate an operator.”

However, the Congolese minister said the fully-fledged exploration would take place only after technical expertise has been provided on how to exploit the gas without causing any harm to environment and the population.

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Minister Kamayirese and minister Ngoi at the Kibuye power1 in lake Kivu. (Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti)

Rwanda, with the support of the Dutch government, has been working on a project that monitors Lake Kivu.

The DR Congo government was encouraged to play a bigger role in the monitoring of the lake.

Source: New Times Rwanda

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