The Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Oil Limited, Willie Mokgatlhe, says that his company plans to roll out a pilot project to develop mobile filling stations in remote areas that are currently not being serviced by international oil companies.
The companies in question are Puma, Shell and Total which have not expanded their operations to most of the rural areas because it is not commercially viable to do so. That notwithstanding, these areas need fuel and all too often experience shortages that require residents to travel to nearest filling stations. This is the gap that BOL will close. “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.
“A selection criteria has been developed and will be applied to select the citizens in those communities that will operate and manage the mobile filling stations. BOL will facilitate the development of the stations and work with the citizens identified to ensure that the stations are constructed in accordance to the standards and requirements set out by the Department of Energy,” he says. He explains further that the mobile filling station concept is a relatively new innovation for providing fuel and other related services to outlying communities at lower capital costs than the traditional filling stations. “These are operational in countries like South Africa, Canada and Australia. As this is new and in order to ensure that standards are maintained, we are working with authorities to ensure that the mobile filling station concept is approved prior to roll out.
This process is fairly advanced.” Another revelation Mokgatlhe makes is that citizens will have the opportunity to operate mobile filling stations in their communities. He says that this initiative will have augmented benefits for the communities in which the filling stations will operate such as employment creation and provision of services such as ATM’s and small convenience stores, thereby generating economic activities for the communities.