In 1986, Lake Nyos — located in the Northwest Province of Cameroon — exploded, killing more than 1,700 people and 3,500 head of livestock.
Most of these people were lucky to have died in their sleep. More than 4,000 survivors suffered from sores, respiratory problems, and even paralysis.
Lakes aren’t supposed to explode. But this one did. Furthermore, Lake Nyos isn’t the only one…
Something similar happened to Lake Monoun, also in East Africa, in 1984. The Monoun explosion mysteriously killed 37 people on their way to work on a dusty road near the water. One man was found slumped over his bicycle.
There is another story told by a survivor. It would seem that his truck’s engine died suddenly and without obvious cause, forcing him to stop. The ten people who got out of the truck to look around mysteriously suffocated within minutes of placing their feet on the ground.
The only two people who survived were sitting on top of the truck.
Carbon Dioxide and Methane
What happened at Lake Nyos and Monoun is called a limnic eruption. It is also called a “lake overturn,” and it is caused by a unique set of factors.
These bizarre circumstances only occur with a very deep, still volcanic lake. There must be a source of gas, such as natural gas or volcanic activity. Scientists speculate that algae, coupled with volcanic and hydrocarbon gas, sink to the bottom of the lake until it the water becomes saturated.
Think of the deep, still, mountainous, volcanic lake as a can of soda; if the can is shaken and the top twisted, you get a geyser of gas.
In the case of these exploding lakes, an underwater earthquake or landslide stirs up the lake. All of the gas flows upward and expands as the water pressure abates. This carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane mixture flows out over the sides of the lake.
Anyone or anything in the way suffocates from lack of oxygen and dies.
These events happen in cycles. The native people have long told stories of water spirits getting angry and killing villagers. The two men sitting on top of the truck lived because they were above the heavier-than-air gas cloud.
After the Lake Monoun disaster, the wind blew away the gas cloud. Those responding an hour later thought it must have been a terror attack.
And Oil, Lots of Oil…
The interesting thing about this region is that it is the new hot spot for oil finds. According to the UPI, “East Africa is emerging as the next oil boom following a big strike in Uganda’s Lake Albert Basin.“
One company, Tullow Oil (TLW.L), ran from 152 pence to 1,375 pence in just five years after finding the largest onshore field south of the Sahara in twenty years.
I recommended Tullow and its partner Heritage to my readers. Heritage later sold its claims to Eni of Italy for $1.5 billion.
Previously, oil majors had ignored this part of the world due to political hazards. But after the small wildcatters made massive finds, companies like Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM), China’s state-run CNOOC (NYSE: CEO), and France’s Total (NYSE: TOT) are moving in.
Texas-based Andarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC) says it has hit a giant natural gas field off the coast of Mozambique. Norway’s Statoil is drilling in Mozambique’s Rovuma Basin.
Since the 2006 Tullow find at Lake Albert — one of the Great Lakes of Africa strung out along the Great Rift Valley — there have been at least 15 confirmed major strikes in the region.
I’ve found one small company with cash and little debt that is working as an exploration company in East Africa. They own blocks in Kenya near one of the exploding lakes, Lake Kivu in Rwanda, and a gas project in Alberta, Canada.
The deal with Lake Kivu is that it is two lakes down from the great Lake Albert find and is sitting on the equivalent geological setting.
Lake Kivu is saturated with methane, a clear indication of a hydrocarbon system underneath.
As I said, this small oil wildcatter also has key blocks in Kenya which are adjacent to one owned by CNOOC. CNOOC has drilled an exploration well that is only 70 kilometers from our primary block in Kenya.
Get this: Results are imminent! They announced on March 24 that they had drilled 4,600 meters and will be testing several formations on their way to the main target at 5,600 meters. They should hit at any moment.
I don’t have to tell you that a discovery by CNOOC would create massive interest in our small company’s adjacent blocks…
I’ve recommended dozens of small oil companies over the years; let me say that in the past ten years, it has been the place to be. Nothing goes up faster than when you announce a major find in some geopolitical backwater.
My readers have made triple-digit gains from companies like Heritage, Soco (SIA.L), Tullow Oil, Dragon Oil (DRO.L) etc. These companies go from little-known penny stocks to multi-billion-dollar mid-majors — a gain of 854% in the case of Soco International, a company with operation in West Africa and Vietnam.
Finding and buying small oil and gas exploration companies is a time-tested and proven way to earn a profit. I’ve built a career on it. The smaller, nimble, hungrier companies can go into the less savory parts of the world and get things done.
And as you know, folks… The formerly ignored parts of the globe are the regions that have all the remaining oil. If there was more oil in Texas, we’d have it by now.
The new major finds will be next to exploding lakes in Africa or under the Arctic — places no one really wanted to go looking.
Nobody but a few wildcatters with the cojones to make stuff happen.
Crisis & Opportunity