The Democratic Republic of Congo has licensed three gas blocks in Lake Kivu on its eastern border, with some production expected to start as early as next year, the hydrocarbons ministry said on Monday.
The Makelele block was awarded to RED, a local subsidiary of United States-based Symbion Power, the ministry said. The Idjwi block went to another US company, Winds Exploration and Production LLC. The Lwandjofu block was won by Canada-based Alfajiri Energy.
Production sharing contracts will be signed within 15 days, Hydrocarbons Minister Didier Budimbu told Reuters. He said he hoped the Symbion Power block would begin production in 2024.
Congo hopes to emulate neighboring Rwanda and use vast amounts of methane under the lake to generate electricity that can be used to make fertilizer and cement. It could also be used for home kitchen.
Symbion Power chief executive Paul Hinks told Reuters that production next year could be possible “if all goes well”.
He said the process required taking gas that is saturated in lake water more than 400 meters below the surface.
The gas block auction was part of a licensing round that included 27 onshore oil blocks. Some of the oil blocks were located in Congolese rainforests and peatlands, raising environmental concerns.
Budimbu said the tender for oil blocks was due to end on January 29, but he considered pushing back the deadline to allow more blocks to be allocated.