Seven firms to spearhead oil exploration

Friday February 20 2015


Seven Canadian oil and petroleum companies are expected in the country this May for exploration work on the prospects of oil in Rwanda.

The Canadian companies have once again expressed interest in Rwandan oil sector after one year without any exploration work following the termination of the licence for Vanoil, a Canadian oil and Gas Company, which was doing the exploration work.

Rwanda Development Board (RDB) is now courting various Canadian firms to resume the exploration work in the Kivu belt where experts believe there are prospects of oil.

Although RDB is not revealing the names of the seven companies, it however, said that two are coming from Calgary state, one from Quebec and Ontario states each with three more expected to come from British Colombia.

“We are talking to these Canadian companies to invest in oil exploration in our oil sector because they have history and experience in this business,” said Emmanuel Muhawenimana, RDB’s representative in Canada.

Mr Muhawenimana revealed that Canadian interest in Rwandan oil sector last week during conference to promote Rwandan exports to Canada. However, the Canadian firms will be subjected to government scrutiny as stipulated in the petroleum law.

“Unlike in agribusiness sector and mining where there are already sealed deals, the oil companies will be here for negotiations before they are granted licenses,” added Mr Muhawenimana.

The interest from the oil firms will not bring to an end the stalled work in the Kivu belt after one year without any tangible work since issuing of any exploration license is likely to take longer.

Oil prospects in this region have been gaining momentum ever since oil was discovered in the Albertine region of Uganda, which has similar characteristics as the Kivu belt.

The Kivu belt includes Lake Kivu and some parts of the western arm Rift Valley such as Nyungwe forest. However, the government has been cagey about anything to do with oil in the country.

During the International Mining Week celebrations, Evode Imena (left), the State Minister for Natural Resources, was non-committal on new companies that are competing for contracts to carry out oil exploration.

“New companies to come on board for oil exploration as well as oil prospects will be announced at the right time,” said Mr Imena.

However, it is not yet clear if there are other petroleum companies from other European countries as well as United States of America that have shown interest in Rwanda’s oil sector.

Last year, oil exploration deal reportedly collapsed after Van Oil demanded 80 per cent shares of the proceeds once oil was discovered in the Kivu belt. The government rejected the proposal.