Rwanda: Methane Gas Extraction on Lake Kivu Gains Momentum
In Karongi District in the Western Province, a giant extraction platform floats on Lake Kivu waters. Built out of thousands of concrete and stainless steel, the platform captures methane gas, a rare asset that is shared between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
That extraction platform was a result of the efforts by Rwanda to attract private investors to inject resources into the lake to extract a resource with great economic potential.
In 2015, the Government commissioned the first industrial-scale gas-fueled power project, KivuWatt, on Lake Kivu. It was the first of its kind in the world. The project utilizes potentially deadly methane gas found in Lake Kivu’s deep waters to generate electricity.
The gas extraction facility, located 13km from the shore and tethered to the bottom of the lake, extracts gas by bringing gas-laden waters from 35 bars to 2 bars of pressure via a gas separator where gas bubbles are extracted from the water. Raw gas is then washed in four wash towers, ultimately producing clean methane gas.
This gas is transported to the power plant through a pipeline and at the power plant, combustion engines generate electricity to be supplied to the energy grid.
From its baseload, the facility owned by Contour Global, a US-based company, generates 26 megawatts.
Until 2004, extraction of the gas was done on a small scale, with the extracted gas being used to run boilers at a brewery in Gisenyi. Since then, the Government has prioritized the production of electricity from this unique resource in order to address the growing electrical energy deficit.