The second phase of oil exploration in the Western Province is about to begin after the first phase was successfully completed. The area, known as the East Kivu Graben, covers parts of Nyungwe and Gishwati forests, and Lake Kivu.
Vangold Resources Ltd, a Canadian oil, gas and mineral corporation carrying out the exploration, announced the completion of the first phase on April 18.
“The satellite imagery phase has been completed. What they saw were signs of seepage but this does not really tell much,” confirmed Vangold’s Country Manager, Joseph Katarebe.
“We are now planning for the second phase and this involves bringing in planes to fly over the area,” Katarebe told The New Times.
He added that the next phase would most likely begin “end of June or sometime in July. All that is happening right now is exploration.”
Although there are already positive indications, it remains unclear whether Rwanda has huge oil deposits and more studies are needed to ascertain the real prospects of oil wealth in the country.
This month, Vangold presented its first progress report to the Government. The report, ‘Offshore Basin Screening – Lake Kivu’ is yet to be analysed by the Government, officials said.
“The results of the Lake Kivu Study indicates that there are 57 slicks in Lake Kivu categorized as 2 pollution, 53 unassigned and 2 priority unassigned slicks. The study does not identify 100% oil slicks but indicates that the two priority unassigned slicks are likely oil seeps,’ Vangold said in a statement.
The release adds: ‘The 53 unassigned and 2 priority unassigned slicks require further investigation that includes Landsat fault/line interpretation, seismic correlation and geochemical sampling studies. A fault/linear interpretation of Landsat imagery in earlier studies, indicates a strong correlation of slicks with faults.’
Danson Mburu, Vangold’s geophysicist said of the preliminary findings: “This is a positive feature as oil migrates along fault lines. Correlation of the only two seismic sections available with some of unassigned shows that most of the “seep” features appear to be close to where the basin section onlaps onto the mainland or the shores of Idjwi Island. This is another positive feature.”
Charles Nyirahuku, the Head of the Gas Unit in the Ministry of Infrastructure, told this reporter that the Government was yet to examine the progress report.
“We have just received it and we need to go through it and make our own comments,” he said Friday. A British firm, the NPA Group, prepared the report on behalf of Vangold.
Nyirahuku explained that in the first phase, pictures from land-set imagery [satellite pictures] of Lake Kivu and the environs show some oil slicks.
While these slicks may indicate a possible presence of generation and accumulation of oil in East Kivu Graben, explorers say the journey was still long since no hint on the exact location and volume of the deposits.
“You also have to analyse the slicks further to establish whether they are not due to pollution for instance,” Nyirahuku warned.
To establish this, “the next step is for Vangold to collect water samples and conduct a geochemical study – an analysis of the rocks,” he explained.
“Secondly, now they are bringing a company to fly over the area to conduct an airborne gravity and magnetic survey. The outcome will be a map showing the regions suspected of having a sedimentary basin and thus likely to have oil,” the official added.
Government is closely monitoring these activities by providing necessary support. Vangold runs similar activities in Kenya, Canada, among other countries. The Government is not paying anything at this stage.