Government’s efforts to revamp its oil reserve storage facilities are inhibited due to lack of space to relocate them during the rehabilitation period.
This was disclosed by officials from the Ministry of Commerce during their appearance before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Friday.
Unlike commercial oil reserves, strategic oil reserves are released into the market, during crises.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce , Emmanuel Hategeka, told PAC that their counterparts in the Ministry of Infrastructure, agreed to rehabilitate the reserves particularly those located in Rwabuye, Huye district.
“We have made the decision to rehabilitate Rwabuye reserves. Even the budget is in place, but our problem is lack of space to put the oil. We do not have enough storage space in the country and we cannot also risk putting all of it on the market so as to empty the stores.”
He said that the only solution was to put up new reserves.
Robert Opirah, the acting coordinator of the petroleum unit in the ministry, told PAC that “the stores have never been cleaned since of 1994.
Asked about the current strategic oil reserves’ capacity, Opirah told PAC that the country’s facility at Rwabuye can accommodate 3.6 million litres, while that at Bigogwe, in Nyabihu District has a five million litres’ capacity.
Government also co-shares other facilities with private business companies in Kigali.
These are Gatsata and Kabuye with a storage capacity of 15 million litres and five million, respectively.
Regulatory plan in pipeline
Meanwhile, Hategeka told The New Times after the session that his ministry is currently designing a ‘downstream petroleum policy,’ to regulate oil issues including the supply and trading operations of fuel in the country.
“We want to make sure that we have an up-to-date downstream petroleum policy that will help us to develop the sector further,” Hategeka said.
“It will definitely give policy orientation on what government can do to facilitate investments in that area.”
Early this year, officials in the Ministry of Infrastructure acknowledged that the government had embarked on a campaign to persuade private investors to construct fuel reserves across the country as a means of resolving fuel shortages.
Rwanda’s target is to have at least 80,000 cubic metres (120 million litres) to last for four years during needy periods.
The aim is also to have enough to avoid market shocks during times of world market oil crises.
Some private investors including Burundi’s Falcon Oil Storage and Tanzania’s Oilcom have reportedly expressed interest to construct reserves in Rwanda.