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LAKE KIVU FOR POWER & FERTILIZER: US Company Stakes $300 Million To Use Methane For Electricity Production

Winds Exploration and Production LLC, a Houston-based company, said it plans to start building a $300 million power and fertilizer complex in a year’s time using methane trapped under the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Lake Kivu.

The plan, which Winds still needs to finance, tackles two problems – providing electricity to one of the world’s least electrified nations and gradually removing gas that’s at risk of escaping and asphyxiating people and animals in a densely populated area.

The methane and carbon dioxide trapped under the lake, estimated at 66 billion and 300 billion normal cubic meters respectively, which straddles Congo’s border with Rwanda, has long been considered a threat. A so-called limnic eruption at Lake Nyos in Cameroon in 1986 led to the suffocation of more than 1,700 people and twice as many livestock as a gas cloud spread 25 kilometers (16 miles) from the water body.

“We are investing to ensure that the lake is safe for residents, capture the CO2 and methane rather than flare them and convert them to urea and electricity,” the company said in a response to questions.

The plan, which comes after Winds signed a production sharing agreement with the government this month, will see $80 million spent on a gas extraction plant, $20 million on a power facility and $200 million on an operation to produce urea fertilizer. Total investment could ultimately rise to $500 million when a pipeline is built to supply methane to local industries and the carbon dioxide is converted into chemicals.

The venture would be the first new, large-scale hydrocarbon project in Congo in decades and is part of a controversial tender for 30 oil and gas blocks throughout the country.

CREDIT: Financial Post



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