Methane gas exploitation in Rwanda started in 1963 when the Cape Rubona Station was established on the shores of Lake Kivu. The plant was initially built as an experimental pilot, but later lost its initial research purpose and became a commercial operation selling a daily output of 8,000 cubic meters to Bralirwa, a brewery in Rwanda.
The volume of Methane gas in place is estimated at about 59 billion cubic meters of which 29 billion cubic meters are believed to be economically recoverable. The small methane extraction pilot unit at Cape Urbana clearly demonstrated the technical and economical viability of methane exploitation at a larger scale. Methane reserves are equally shared between Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda
Methane could potentially be used for Electricity Generation, Gas to Liquid (Kerosene, Diesel, Jet fuel), and Fertilizer (Urea) plants
Potential Utilisation of Gas
- Methane gas can be used for industrial use. Bralirwa use it in its gas fired boiler and is also used in Cimerwa Cement Factory. This is a proof that the gas can be utilised for industrial purposes.
- Methane gas can be used as fuel in form of compressed natural gas for domestic needs especially cooking and for residential use in winter. It can be exported to countries that experience winter.
- Fabrication of calcium carbide.
- Gas as a feedstock in the production of urea fertilisers and methanol.
- Power Generation is the most favourable option of gas utilisation due to the present power supply shortage in Rwanda is estimated to be around 15MW, the generation of such capacity would require about 48 million standard cubic metres of gas, the utilisation of gas for power generation would allow for a progressive increase in the generation capacity as well as gradual increase the demand for electricity.
Government policy on the sector
In line with the policy of liberalisation of the energy sector the Government has set-up a Methane Gas Unit to promote and encourage private investment.