DRC Issues Three Licenses for Lake Kivu Gas to Power Projects

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News Flash

  • USA based Symbion Power has been awarded the Makelele biogas block on Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 
  • The licences for the two other gas blocks on the lake were awarded to USA-based Winds Exploration and Production LLC and Canada-based Alfajiri Energy with unspecified production capacity.

DRC Minister of Hydrocarbons, H.E. Didier Budimbu Ntubuanga, has selected Symbion Power as the winner of a tender for the development of the 60MW Makelele biogas to electricity project in Lake Kivu in the eastern part of the country near Rwanda. The $300 million project will evacuate power to Goma and the North and South of Kivu provinces.

Lake Kivu holds 300 cubic kilometres of dissolved carbon dioxide and 60 cubic kilometres of methane. The lake is estimated to hold enough methane capacity to produce 700MW of electricity over more than 50 years.  Currently ContourGlobal, operates a 26MW methane-to-electricity facility in the lake under a 25-year concession and power purchase agreements with the Rwandan government.

Environmentalists have raise concerns because the degassed water which is then returned to the lake contains high levels of nutrients and toxic hydrogen sulfite, which could kill fish and lead to harmful algal blooms, potentially threatening the local fishing industry.  Read more 

Further risk

Lake Kivu, a geological anomaly that holds 300 cubic kilometres of dissolved carbon dioxide and 60 cubic kilometres of methane, laced with toxic hydrogen sulfide. The picturesque lake, nestled between the DRC and Rwanda, has the potential to explosively release these gases in a rare phenomenon known as a limnic eruption. That could send a huge pulse of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere: the lake holds the equivalent of 2.6 gigatonnes of CO2, which is equal to about 5% of global annual greenhouse-gas emissions. Even worse, such a disaster could fill the surrounding valley with suffocating and toxic gas, potentially killing millions of people. Read more

Author: Bryan Groenendaal


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