THE Parliamentary Standing Committee on National Budget and Patrimony has tasked the Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) to carry out of a study to establish whether the methane gas in Kivu Lake can be used for cooking.
The MPs said that since the government has made use-of-gas-for-cooking a priority among Rwandan households and restaurants, and given that the gas being used in Rwanda for the purpose is imported, it would reduce the country’s import bill if Rwandans used gas from Lake Kivu.
Presently, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), imported from countries like Kenya and Tanzania, is being used for cooking in Rwanda.
“I think it can be more affordable,” Committee Chairperson MP Constance Rwaka Mukayuhi said. She was speaking during a committee session that examined MININFRA proposed budget for next fiscal year.
Energy Development Corporation Limited (EDCL) managing director Emmanuel Kamanzi said that the idea is laudable, noting that “we are in negotiations with investors to see how we can try to extract and bottle the gas.”
“Until now, the technologies available show us that the gas can be packed, but the challenge for us is that it requires to be packed in huge containers because it cannot be compressed,” he said.
“That is the only remaining difficulty, but we are mulling over feasibility studies like for setting up pipelines that can extract it for supply in cities,” he said.
The State Minister for Transport, Dr Alexis Nzahabwanimana, said they will look into the matter.
In 2012, the Government waived tax on imported gas, reducing the cost of a kilogramme of the gas from between Rwf1,300 and Rwf1,600 to between Rwf800 and Rwf1,000 currently.
The development, according to Rwanda Energy Group (REG), was in line with the government’s policy to gradually reduce the reliance on firewood and charcoal as fuels.
The companies importing LPG into Rwanda have a storage capacity of 80,000 cubic meters (or 80,000,000 litres), according to figures from REG. The companies include SP, SULFO, HASHI ENERGY, ABBARCI GAS, SAFE GAS, MEREZ, OXYGEN, ENGEN and KOBIL.
However, REG said that no studies have yet been done to ascertain demand for LPG countrywide.
Meanwhile, Dr Nzahabwanimana said that MININFRA wants that regulation be ensured in the sale of LPG already in use in the country to address the impact of price fluctuations.
“We want to stabilise the prices through regulations and interventions,” he said.
According to the 2013/14 Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV4), 83.3% of Rwandan households use firewood and charcoal as cooking fuel, yet under Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II), fuel wood consumption is expected to reduce to 50% by 2018.
The remaining 50 per cent of Rwandans will be using gas, biogas or improved cook stoves that are energy-efficient, according to REG.
Currently, less than 1 per cent of Rwandan households use cooking gas, REG says.
Cooking gas is efficient as it saves about half of the cost that would be spent on charcoal.
About Kivu Lake gas
Lake Kivu has three types of gas identified so far, namely Carbon Dioxide, Methane and Hydrogen Sulphide. Information from REG suggest that all these gases can have fatal effects if emitted or released in large quantities.
The lake is estimated to contain 300 billion cubic meters of carbon dioxide and 60 billion cubic meters of methane gas - shared equally between Rwanda and the DRC. The quantity of methane available in Lake Kivu is believed to be sufficient to supply 700 megawatts of electricity for over 55 years.