As a move to mitigate fuel shortages and keep oiling the wheels of the economy, Botswana government is looking at different routes and supplies to bring into the country.
In a statement circulated around local media houses, the Ministry of Minerals Energy and Water Resources pointed a gloomy picture of fuel supply that could dampen the festive mood.
Since October, supply has been affected as refineries in South Africa, which is the major supply route undergo maintenance.
“The unavailability of products from these refineries and the reduced capacity of the pipeline by almost 80 percent have resulted in reduced supplies into Botswana since the end of October 2010,” the ministry, headed by Ponatshego Kedikilwe, revealed.
“Fuel supplies have slowly been reducing, with the week beginning 6th December 2010 being the worst so far,” the statement said.
Fuel supply to Botswana is done by multinational oil companies, who get most of their product from the Tarlton depot, which is dedicated to supplying amongst others, Botswana.
To offset future supply complications, government wants to look at different routes and sources.
“To this end the Minister of Minerals Energy and Water Resources has had bilateral talks with his counterparts in Mozambique and Namibia to open up new supply routes and sources for Botswana,” the ministry said.
“This was necessitated by the need to diversify our sources of supply and routes as a country to ensure that if one route has a problem, then they will be other alternatives,” it said.
To compound matters, Engen and Sasol in South Africa had planned shut downs for maintenance from October 2010.
The Sasol refinery is now operational as maintenance has been completed, whilst the Engen refinery is still out of operation and is anticipated to come back on stream around February 2011.
It has been revealed that Botswana has a shortfall of about 42 percent with the shortfall expected to be met by supplies of about 5 million per week from Mozambique and 8 million litres from South Africa that is expected this week.
“Fuel supplies have slowly been reducing, with the week beginning 6th December 2010 being the worst so far.”
In the short-term, government this week authourized the release of about 5 692 7000 litres of diesel and 374 000 litres of petrol from the Government Strategic Reserve Stocks to be supplied to essential and critical services throughout the country.
These areas include power stations, hospitals, security services, CTO, and mines. The government Strategic Oil Storage Depots mitigate the effects of fuel supply shortages mainly to maintain essential and crucial economic services.
Government therefore encouraged the use of available petroleum resources prudently, employ fuel saving measures and desist from stock piling fuel as well as panic buying, as this might worsen the situation.