KIGALI - Vanoil Energy Ltd, formerly known as Vangold, a Canadian company which has been carrying out oil surveys, has announced that it has come to an understanding with the Ministry of Infrastructure to enter into a definitive production sharing contract within six months.
Vanoil will continue with its ongoing exploration program in the country with an environmental impact assessment for the planned 2D marine seismic program within the East Kivu Graben.
This area located over Lake Kivu surrounds what is believed to be the south-western extension of the Albertine Graben which contains large deposits of carbon that can be converted into petroleum products. Uganda has already begun oil extraction on its side.
In an interview with The New Times, the Minister of State for Energy, Eng. Collette Uwineza Ruhamya, confirmed the development, saying that the company has forwarded a request to the government to allow it bring in equipment to conduct the study.
“They will be coming in May to carry out seismic studies which will go on until September, that is when we can confirm whether there can be production or not,” Ruhamya said.
“They will also return the results of the water samples taken earlier for our people (REMA) to ascertain whether there will be any impact caused on the water and the surrounding environment”.
She added that at a later stage, the government will enter a groundbreaking Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) with Vanoil.
Vanoil said in a statement that it will carryout an EIA which has four components, the first one being the Carbon isotopic tests to determine the source of the huge 55 km3 methane in Lake Kivu at GHgeochem Laboratory in the UK.
According to the company, the methane continues to increase at a rate of 15% in 30 years. The tests will determine whether the gas could be from leaking hydrocarbons trapped in the sedimentary basin.
The second will be a laboratory excitation of Lake Kivu waters by sonic waves to form bubbles to establish suitable safe seismic sources for the marine survey to be carried out by Allied Geophysical Labs in Houston, Texas.
It will also conduct an analysis of Lake Kivu waters for dissolved hydrocarbons and mineral salts at the Petroleum and Geochem lab also in Houston, and finally a high resolution low impact 300 km seismic and magnetic survey to evaluate geo hazards in the lake with University of Syracuse.
Based on interpretation of gravity and magnetic data surveys conducted by Vangold in 2008, the basinal area in East Kivu is approximately 600 km2 with local accumulation of sediments exceeding 3,000m in the central depo-centre.
The East Kivu Graben is the southernmost extension of the Albertine Graben along the western arm of East African Rift System.
The initial sediments in East Kivu Graben could be of Miocene or younger age. The lake used to discharge through the north to the Nile when volcanic eruptions formed the Virunga Mountains and therefore it changed course to discharge in Lake Tanganyika.
The northernmost part of the Albertine Graben in Uganda is the Lake Albert area which has an indicated oil reservoir of approximately one billion barrels.
This major oil discovery was found by Heritage Oil and Tullow Oil. The common origin (shared tectonic and sedimentary history) of Lake Kivu with Lake Edward, Lake George and Lake Albert presupposes a similar sedimentary in-fill and therefore makes Lake Kivu an ideal basin to explore.