Monday, February 2, 2009

Oil exploration takes new shape in Rwanda

BY EDWIN MUSONI

Vangold Resources Ltd, a Canadian firm and New Resolution Geophysics (NRG), recently signed an agreement to carry out an aero-exploration exercise to search for oil.

This was revealed yesterday by the State Minister for Energy, Albert Butare.

“The aerial survey was not entirely perfect because of the scope of our landscape which has many hills. We have alternatively decided to use state-of-the-art boats, to conduct the oil exploration on Lake Kivu,” Butare told The New Times.

He however stressed that such exotic boats are very few in the world and it will take about two months for the boats to arrive in the country.

So far, Vangold Resources Ltd is exploring the existence of oil reserves in the Albertine belt, which stretches from Uganda via the Democratic Republic of Congo to the Rwandan Western Province.

NRG was also sub-contracted by Vangold to carry out the airborne survey.

Although it failed, the gravity and aeromagnetic survey (research about the depth and shallow crustal structure) was estimated to cost US$1.2m (approx. Rwf 700m) and results were expected to be released in December last year.

According to Butare, previous studies have indicated sedimentary layers of oil in Rwanda, which implies that there is existence of oil in the Rwandan soils.

The area in the Kivu Graben where oil reserves are suspected to exist is dubbed the ‘White Elephant,’ a part of the great western East African Rift System.

Experts attest that, Tullow Oil and Heritage Oil have already made major oil discoveries in the same Graben. The ‘White Elephant’ area had previously been curved to 2,708 sq kms in area representing 11percent of the land mass of Rwanda.

Other experts also interpret that presence of Methane Gas in the deep waters of Kivu, which also originates partly from the earth crust, is an indication of probable oil presence below the Lake sediments.

If all the indications for petroleum potential remain positive, several companies will storm Rwanda to carry out the extraction but officials are keen not to raise hopes among the population who believe oil would solve all the problems the country faces.