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Rwanda signs deal for large-scale bottling of methane gas from ‘boiling’ Lake Kivu

February 07, 2019 at 10:00 am | Money Moves

Ismail Akwei

Ismail Akwei | Contributor

February 07, 2019 at 10:00 am | Money Moves

Lake Kivu -- Photo: MIT

Lake Kivu lies on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda, and it poses a great risk to millions of inhabitants around it due to the toxic gasses that boil from beneath the freshwater lake.

Large amounts of boiling lava from volcanic activities in the surrounding rift valley enters the lake and this produces large amounts of methane and carbon dioxide that can kill humans, animals and vegetation in high concentration.

Lava from the Lake Kivu in 2000 — Credit: BBC

The gas can also be used as fuel and to generate electricity as has been done on a small scale by Rwanda for nearly two decades. The country has decided to make huge gains from the natural resource by signing a $400 million deal with Gasmeth Energy to suck the methane gas from the bed of the lake and bottle them for use as fuel on a large scale.

This move will reduce the toxic gas bubbling to the surface and will generate revenue for the country while protecting the environment with the clean fuel.

The seven-year deal, announced on Tuesday will produce bottled gas which should be on sale within two years to domestic and international consumers, reports Reuters.

Gasmeth Energy, owned by U.S. and Nigerian businessmen and Rwandans, said it would finance, build and maintain a gas extraction, processing and compression plant near the lake.

The chief executive of the Rwanda Development Board, Clare Akamanzi, told Reuters that bottled methane would be an affordable alternative fuel that will replace wood and charcoal.

“We expect to have affordable gas which is environmentally friendly. 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,” she said.

There are already two companies, ContourGlobal and Symbion Power Lake Kivu Limited, which are already extracting gas from Lake Kivu to power electricity plants. KivuWatt manages the electrical generation plants and sale to the Rwandan government.

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