Rwanda does not have any known oil or gas deposits, but the tiny landlocked East African nation has just passed its national petroleum law that will guide investments and exploration in oil.
Located in the middle of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), all of which have discovered oil or gas in the last few years, there is a high likelihood that Rwanda too could also be holding some undiscovered deposits.
It is in this backdrop that the country decided to front run their own discovery and came up with the Upstream Petroleum Policy adopted by the Cabinet in June, 2013.
“Recent oil and gas discoveries in East African countries, with which we share the same geology, have been a motivation for Rwanda to start exploration for petroleum resources thus creating the upstream sector,” read part of the policy document.
Vanoil, a Canadian exploration firm, explored the northern part of Lake Kivu for six year but abandoned the region in 2013 after hitting a few “dry wells” and incurring heavy costs, Footprint to Africa reported.
The Rwandan government however said Vanoil’s exploration pace and capacity was below expectation, which led to cancellation of their contract.
A new private oil explorer is expected to restart drilling the sediment rocks of Lake Kivu by the start of 2017, as the country seeks to become the fourth country with known oil reserves in the region.
“We are optimistic. We can never be sure before drilling and getting oil in our hands, but information we have so far shows that there is a good chance,” Evode Imena, state minister for mines, told Footprint to Africa.
“We are evaluating proposals from six exploration companies specializing in seismic shooting and data interpretation. So far no contract has been signed yet and our team is working on finding out the best proposal.”
Exploration licenses in Rwanda are only valid for three years, while a production investor is given a license valid for up to 25 years.
During the discussion phase of the new petroleum law, Imena told the Rwandan parliament that there were signs of oil deposits in the country, but no reserves had been discovered, The East African reported.