Lake Kivu: turning a threat into prosperity
Lake Kivu is unique in the world due to its stable stratification that traps large concentrations of methane gas (CH4) and CO2 in the deepest layers. The CO2 forms a looming danger for the surrounding areas of Lake Kivu as an eruption of CO2 could cause large scale asphyxiation. Such an eruption could occur after an earthquake or a volcanic eruption, affecting the stability of the lake. Due to natural processes the concentrations of CH4 and CO2 are still increasing and without a controlled reduction, a disastrous gas eruption becomes more likely.
The large concentrations of CH4 are a source for sustainable energy production. Project KivuWatt plans to exploit the gas to generate electrical power that is very much needed in Rwanda. The water that will be pumped up from the lake to extract the CH4 also contains CO2. The water will be washed and re-injected in Lake Kivu, but at other depths. The risks associated with the gas extraction, such as lake instability, should be identified in order to ensure a safe and a socially and environmentally responsible extraction.
Royal HaskoningDHV together with TNO Oil & Gas has identified the risks associated with the gas extraction and power generation. Aspects that were assessed are the plant designs, the technology used, lake stability, EPC contracts, the implementation plan and financial model. Furthermore a review of the permits, EIA and SIA was made and a check carried out on compliance with IFC Performance Standards.