Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have signed a five-year joint exploration agreement for oil under Lake Kivu.
The agreement was signed mid April by Rwanda’s Minister for Natural Resources Vincent Biruta and DRC Minister for Hydrocarbons Aime Ngoi-Mukena.
The agreement, seen by The EastAfrican, covers the joint exploitation of oil resources should any hydrocarbons be discovered under the shared cross-border area of the lake.
Rwanda and the DRC also agreed to exemption of duties and taxes paid on equipment, materials and chemical reagents imported exclusively for exploration activities.
“Both parties recognise the right of the operator to erect facilities for hydrocarbon resources exploration in or around Lake Kivu in the territory of either party,” the agreement states.
“All the technical data and geological data obtained by the operator during this exploration activity belong to both parties,” the agreement adds.
The agreement comes shortly after Kigali awarded Ngali Energy — a subsidiary of the Rwanda Ministry of Defence — oil exploration rights.
Ngali Energy has since set up a base camp in Gisenyi, Rubavu on the shores of Lake Kivu.
Neither Ngali Energy nor Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board officials were available for comment, but reliable sources said that Ngali was in the process of outsourcing an experienced foreign company to conduct geochemical surveys under the lake.
“Ngali has the financial resources but not the expertise and equipment to carry out a geochemical survey on Lake Kivu. That is why they are outsourcing,” a source at the Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board said.
Mr Biruta said: “If they need geophysicists, they hire them. They can even hire a company to provide the required expertise. What they have is the financial capacity,” he said.
He added that the government expects better results from the oil survey, after Vanoil — a Canadian firm — provided “insufficient results” before its contract was terminated in 2013. Further setbacks were registered earlier this year, when negotiations with Chinese firm BGP suddenly collapsed.
BGP is currently conducting geochemical and seismic surveys in Kenya, and has previously worked in Uganda, Tanzania and DRC.
Under the Rwandan law governing petroleum exploration and production activities, an exploration licence is valid for three years while a production investor is given a licence valid for up to 25 years.