7 February 2019

Rwanda Poised to Cut Gas Imports in Wake of New Methane Deal

a new deal between the Government and a local company, Gasmeth Energy, to extract and process methane gas from Lake Kivu has been welcomed as the solution to the country's rising bill of importing cooking gas.

On Friday last week, the Government inked the over $400million deal with that will see the firm extract and process methane gas for cooking and industrial use such as powering factory operations as well as car fuels.

The compressed natural gas will be distributed on both the local and international market, according to a statement from Rwanda Development Board.

The development comes in the wake of a sharp rise in domestic demand for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).

According to estimates from the Ministry of Infrastructure, the demand for LPG is set to rise to more than 240,000 tonnes by 2024, from the current 10,000 tonnes.

Since 2012, the ministry says, the consumption LPG rose by 50 per cent.

The deal is thus expected to reduce the amount of money the country spends on importing gas from Kenya and Tanzania.

It is also seen as a safer alternative to the environmentally dangerous charcoal and firewood--which is used for cooking by 83 per cent of Rwandans.

Francis Gatare, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board, said that the project is different from the current use of methane gas, which consists of generating electricity.

Under the new project, new technology will be applied to extract, prepare and transport the gas where people need for use in their homes, institutions and industries.

Gatare said the gas will be ready for use within two years.

"Through the study we carried out, we realised that the cost of the gas will be cheaper than the imported one used in the country," he said.

The study shows, Gatare said, that the methane gas available in Kivu can provide enough gas for cooking in the entire country.

Safety concerns

Gatare allayed any safety concerns, saying that: "There is no concern the methane gas can cause than that of other fuels such as petrol, diesel used in cars."

In an earlier interview, Pierre Moulin, who retired from the World Bank, told The New Times that in the 70s and 80s, some studies undertaken by the Bank showed that Kivu gas held a lot of potential.

"It can substitute for all imported petroleum products in all their applications, including cooking and transportation," he said.

Lake Kivu has 60-70km3 of Methane (CH4) of which 44.7km3 can be extracted, according to the Ministry of Infrastructure.

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