Internal disputes delay power generation from methane gas

The completion of the phase I of the Lake Kivu integrated-methane gas extraction and power production facility has been pushed to June 2014, according to Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) officials.
The Methane Gas Plant in Lake Kivu. The New Times/ File
The Methane Gas Plant in Lake Kivu. The New Times/ File

The completion of the phase I of the Lake Kivu integrated-methane gas extraction and power production facility has been pushed to June 2014, according to Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) officials.

Initially, the project was supposed to be completed by June this year but due to internal mismanagement issues between KivuWatt ltd and its sub-contractor Civicon Kenya ltd, the project delayed.

Kivuwatt Ltd, a Rwandan subsidiary of an American company Contour Global, seeks to generate 25MW from methane gas in Lake Kivu in Karongi District.

Phase I of the project includes the construction of gas extraction using a floating barge and processing facilities and a 25MW gas fired power plant. 

The extracted gas will be further processed and pumped to a methane gas fired plant on shore. 

Speaking to The New Times on Monday, Charles Nyirahuku, the director of energy development at EWSA, said the project was extended for one year due to misunderstandings between KivuWatt and the Kenyan firm that was subcontracted to undertake the engineering, design and supervision of the project.

“Civicon Kenya Ltd was subcontracted to do the work, but due to poor quality work, its contract was terminated,” he said.

Nyirahuku pointed out that it’s not a breach of contract because the terms of agreement provide for the delay by the developer to complete the project on time, including the penalties and the possibility of extending the deadline.

According to EWSA, after terminating the Civicon’s contract, Kivuwatt hired another sub-contractor Koch from Germany to take over the project. 

“So far the company (Koch) has shown commitment and we are also monitoring the situation. The work is ongoing and we are optimistic, by June 2014, the generation of 25MW will have been realised,” Nyirahuku said.

Energy roadmap 

He explained that the company’s work was not up to standard and even Civicon was slow in its works which is the reason behind the termination of the contract.

Despite all the challenges involved, the power facility was completed and the construction of the gas extraction plant has reached 70 per cent.

By press time, efforts to reach Jarmo Gummerus, KivuWatt’s country manager, were futile as his known phone number was off.

Nevertheless, Robert Kremer, the chief finance officer of Contour Global, a New York based international power company, said he could not discuss the company’s issues in the media.

“I am so sorry I can’t help you. This is a very sensitive matter,” he said.

Phase I of the project is expected to cost $142 million (approximately Rwf92 billion) and it will be followed by three more phases expected to produce a total of 100 MW.

In August, 2011 the state-of-the-art methane gas extraction barge was left afloat on Lake Kivu.

The 750 tonnes barge, 64 metres long and 25 metres wide, has a closely similar floating technology to that of a ship.

The KivuWatt lending group includes Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF), Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries. 

Once completed, the project will raise and process methane gas deposits trapped deep in the waters of Lake Kivu for use as fuel to generate critically needed electricity, at the same time safely removing harmful lake gases. 

The government seeks to increase energy production up from the current110.8MW to 563MW by 2017.

 

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