Rwanda signs $400 million deal to produce methane gas from “Killer Lake”

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Manguiste, 24, stands in a canoe on Lake Kivu just off Idjwi island in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 26, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo SEARCH "BAMBUTI" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.

Clement Uwiringiyimana

KIGALI (Reuters) – Rwanda said on Tuesday it had signed a $400 million deal to produce bottled gas from Lake Kivu, which emits such dense clouds of methane it is known as one of Africa’s “Killer Lakes”.

Lake Kivu is seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo, November 25, 2016. REUTERS/Therese Di Campo/File Photo
The project by Gasmeth Energy, owned by U.S. and Nigerian businessmen and Rwandans, would suck gas from the lake’s deep floor and bottle it for use as fuel. This should, in turn, help prevent toxic gas bubbling to the surface.

The seven-year deal, signed on Friday, was announced on Tuesday.

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

Clare Akamanzi, chief executive of the Rwanda Development Board, told Reuters bottled methane would help cut local reliance on wood and charcoal, the fuels most households and tea factories use in the East African nation of 12 million people.

“We expect to have affordable gas which is environmentally friendly,” she said. “We expect that people can use gas instead of charcoal, the same with industries like tea factories instead of using firewood, they use gas. It’s part of our green agenda.”

The deep waters of Lake Kivu, which lies in the volcanic region on Rwanda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, emit such dense clouds of methane that scientists fear they might erupt, killing those living along its shore.

Eruptions from much smaller methane-emitting lakes in Cameroon, one causing a toxic cloud and another sparking an explosion, killed a total of nearly 1,800 people. The shores of Lake Kivu are much more densely populated.

Gasmeth Energy said it would finance, build and maintain a gas extraction, processing and compression plant to sell methane domestically and abroad.

The bottled gas should be on sale within two years, Akamanzi said, adding that prices had yet to be determined.

Editing by Katharine Houreld and Edmund Blair

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.