Sunday, January 29, 2023

Botswana admits it has low levels of fuel reserves

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals and Energy Nchena Mothebe has expressed worry over low government fuel storages saying that they are a far cry from World Bank recommendations.

Nthebe was giving a key note address during the ground breaking ceremony of the extension of the Botswana Oil Limited (BOL) Fuel Depot in Francistown last week Friday.

“The combined capacity of all government fuel storages currently stands at 62 million litres, which translates to 18 days cover. This is a far cry from the World Bank’s recommended 90 days cover for land-locked countries like Botswana,” he said.

He said the government has resolved to embark on various projects in a quest to increase the national storage holding at least 60 days cover. He said such projects include the Tshele Hills Depot and Ghanzi Depot.

Located in the Dumela Industrial area, the Francistown Depot Expansion project is expected to add 60 million litres to the current 38 million litre depot bringing the capacity to 98 million litres. This will be done through the addition of four large 15 million litre tanks and addition of loading and road facilities over the next 18 months. Early this year Botswana Oil Limited took over management of the Francistown Depot from Vivo Energy who had also managed the Depot since its commissioning in 1979.

Mothebe said it is important to note that fuel is the mainstay of Botswana’s economy as it is used in other mining operations, transportation, manufacturing, power generation and water treatment.

“It is important that government plays an active role in ensuring the security of this commodity in the country,” he said.

He added that the geo-political dynamics the world is currently experiencing especially in the oil producing regions has not left the country unscathed as an economy. He said as a country that imports 100 percent of its fuel needs, the surge in global demand for energy especially fuel has confronted the policy makers with difficult tasks to ensure the availability of relevant legislation and also ensure fuel security and sufficiency for Botswana.

“The recent amendment of the Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) by Parliament to facilitate a meaningful role by Botswana Oil in the importation of petroleum products is one such decision. Through such targeted legislation, Botswana Oil will have necessary economies of scale to negotiate the best prices for the country and most importantly allow the country to have an influence on decisions of how and when petroleum products flow into the country,” he said.

Mothebe said with a strategic commodity such as fuel, it is prudent for the government to have an oversight of how it is procured, stored and managed. He said with Botswana Oil Limited in charge of a significant percentage of imports, the benefits that will be realized will be re-invested into development of storage infrastructure as well as facilitate real and meaningful participation of citizens in the sector.

The Expansion of the Botswana Oil Francistown Depot has been awarded to Concor in collaboration with Excavator Hire (EH) Joint Venture which are all 100 percent citizen contractors. The project is expected to complete in 24 months.

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