The Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Oil Limited, Willie Mokgatlhe, says that his company will not undercut international oil companies (IOCs) that have been in business in Botswana for decades.
“As the national oil company of Botswana, BOL was established to enable economic growth through provision of petroleum products, management of national strategic reserves and facilitation of local companies into the petroleum sector. We are therefore here to advance the national agenda and do not threaten the existence of IOCs. We acknowledge that IOCs have been and continue to serve the country well. What BOL intends to do, he adds, is to complement the IOCs as is the case in many other countries that have national oil companies as well as international companies active in their markets,” he says.
The IOCs in question are Shell, Vivo Energy, Total and Puma. Mokgatlhe says that BOL does not aim to operate filling stations, with the exception of rural areas where the IOCs are not represented. In addressing this challenge in accessing petroleum products, BOL aims to build mobile filling stations in selected rural areas.
“Development of mobile filling stations in rural areas aims to mitigate the challenge of accessibility of fuel specifically in remote areas as well as facilitate involvement of citizens in the oil industry. We are aware of the distances that people in these communities have to travel in order to access petroleum, and this initiative aims at addressing this challenge,” Mokgatlhe explains.
He reveals that this project will be piloted in five areas with one mobile filling station rolled out per area. Among other factors the selection criteria will be influenced by distance from the nearest filling station, population of the village and farming activities.
The other revelation he makes is that BOL, in close collaboration with government, is considering the adoption of coal-to-liquid technologies as a means of ensuring security, self-sufficiency and efficiency of supply of petroleum products.
Converting coal to a liquid fuel (CTL) ÔÇô also known as coal liquefaction ÔÇô allows coal to be utilised as an alternative to oil and is particularly suited to countries that rely heavily on oil imports and that have large domestic reserves of coal. At this point, South Africa, which has been producing coal-derived fuels, has the only commercial CTL industry in operation today.
Mokgatlhe says that BOL and the government have agreed in principle that a prefeasibility study has to be undertaken on the project.
“This will be conducted to determine the various models that can be adopted and the implications of these before proceeding with a fully-fledged feasibility study. In this regard, Terms of Reference for engaging a consultant to undertake the prefeasibility study are being concluded. One of the key areas to manage as we strive to ensure self-sufficiency of fuel products and support economic diversification is that of environmental challenges associated with this project. Once appointed, the consultant will work with the different stakeholders in order to ensure that the project materializes and that we have in place strategies to mitigate some of the associated challenges.”
BOL’s showpiece facility that will be built at Tshele Hills in Rasesa at a cost of P750 million will store petrol, diesel and paraffin. Mokgatlhe says that in the long term, the company aims to have a product portfolio that services various segments of the market. This will include provision of fuel to the aviation industry.