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Rwanda starts drilling to test potential for geothermal development

Start of Drilling campaign, Rwanda (source: Twitter/ Silas Lwakabamba)
Alexander Richter 5 Aug 2013

Rwanda commences geothermal exploration program with the start of drilling of three exploration wells at Mt. Karisimbi.

Two weeks ago, the country of Rwanda has launched the drilling campaign to explore its geothermal potential.

The project will focus on drilling three exploration wells at the slopes of Mt. Karisimbi in Kabatwa Sector, Nyabihu District., according to the Ministry of Infrastructure.

Preliminary studies, in early 2011, by Kenya’s KenGen, which conducted a thorough surface exploration of geothermal energy, indicated that Rwanda’s potential is estimated to be more than 700MW.

The other geothermal potential sites are Kinigi in Musanze District, Gisenyi in Rubavu District and Bugarama in Ngororero District.

The country hired  Great Wall Drilling Company, a Chinese drilling firm already active in Kenya geothermal development. The drilling is expected to take only two months for each well.

Geologists have been in the place supervising whether the soil allows drilling exercise and they will be still supervising day-to-day reporting to the ministry.

Prof. Lwakabamba said the Bugarama project will be a joint effort with Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo.

The State Minister for Energy and Water, Eng. Emma Francoise Isumbingabo, said the three wells cost the government about $21 million (about Rwf14 billion).

She said: “According to the study, Karisimbi would provide between 150MW and 300MW, and, with other sites, Rwanda expects to get 700MW.”

First initial results from the drilling are expected within the next 6 months, but statements about a 12 or 14 months time frame for a first plant might be a bit too optimistic.

The project is part of government’s ambitious Rwf3 trillion roadmap for energy production and accessibility over the next five years. The government plans to progressively tap 200MW from peat, 310MW from geothermal, 320MW from hydro power, and 300MW from methane gas.

Rwanda currently generates 110MW, that is, 16 per cent of domestic accessibility.”

Source: AllAfrica