Rwanda has resumed search for petroleum deposits in Lake Kivu to join regional countries that are already looking forward to refineries.
In 2015 Rwanda locked horns and closed a deal with a Canadian oil exploration company-Vanoil; creating fear that Rwanda had hit a dead end on cashing on the presumed oil deposits shared with other East African countries.
The exploration period awarded to the Canadian company had expired in 2014 and the company allegedly demanded for more time and a bigger catch on the shares in the oil deal.
Two years on, Rwanda’s Natural Resources Ministry says that the search is still on and there are high hopes of finding petroleum in Rwanda.
“We have since hired competent local and foreign experts and companies to do the job,” Natural Resources Minister, Dr. Vincent Biruta told KT Press.
This exploration research will take time but Rwanda is not about to give up according to Biruta.
“We are not sure when we will get results but the reason why we have insisted on resuming the search is because we have some signs that petroleum deposits exist in the country,” Biruta said.
Early this year, Rwanda announced a tender for bids to carry out exploration activities which had been floated to private expert companies. Six companies had applied and one was to be selected among them, with a policy that provides for concessions.
In June, the country enacted a law on Petroleum Exploration and Production which is expected to have a control on the oil activities.
The new law has similarities with petroleum laws in Kenya and Uganda, which confirmed discoveries of oil.
The law is also expected to respond to the Upstream Petroleum Policy adopted by the Cabinet on June, 2013 to regulate the petroleum industry in line with similar discoveries made in the same geological lining in neighboring countries.
Under the Rwandan law governing petroleum exploration and production activities, an exploration license is valid for three years while a production investor is given a license valid for up to 25 years.
The law now provides that Rwanda government holds the biggest percentage in the petroleum exploitation proceeds and has an upper hand in assessing the progress from time to time.
The amount of petroleum in the Lake Kivu belt is not known so far but it is believed that all Great lakes regional countries share the same base for the petroleum deposits and once exploitation starts in one of the countries, it’s compulsive for another to follow suit.
The EAC report released during the 7th East African petroleum conference(EAPCO), held in Kigali march 2016 shows that 2.3bn barrels of recoverable oil had been discovered in Uganda and Kenya and more than 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in Tanzania.
Oil exploration experts said that there were exciting signs of oil and gas in Rwanda and Burundi as well.
During EAPCO conference, the Deputy Minister of East African Cooperation in Tanzania, Dr. Abdullah Saadalla confirmed commercial petroleum reserves of approximately 6.5 billion barrels in Uganda, 600 million barrels in Kenya, and approximately 53 gas in Tanzania, together with discoveries in Mozambique.
“Indeed this confirms that the East African region is emerging as a new and exciting frontier for oil and gas exploration and investment,” he said.
Uganda whose total oil infrastructure budget is more than $20 billion, recently selected a consortium led by Russia’s RT Global resources to construct the country’s first refinery pending final contract negotiations.
Rwanda and other Northern Corridor partners have a stake in the project and agreed to contribute to its construction.
Rwanda’s Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi urged his counterparts to prioritize exploration, production, refining, storage and transportation by pipelines.