Botswana Oil Limited (BOL) will construct another fuel storage facility in Francistown to expand the country’s strategic fuel reserves. BOL Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Willie Mokgatlhe said last week that the Francistown expansion project will increase the capacity of strategic fuel storage reserves by 30 million litres to bring the depot capacity up to 65 million litres.
BOL has previously allocated P150 million for construction of a 150 million liters oil storage facility at Tshele Hills in Kgatleng District, which is expected to be operational in 2017/8. The current fuel storage facilities, located in Gaborone and Francistown have a limited capacity of 20 and 35 million litres respectively that cannot guarantee security of fuel supplies in the country, considering the ballooning oil needs. They also fall short of the targeted 60 day strategic reserve.
“With our Francistown expansion, there will be an upgrading of the existing fire-fighting installations, road and rail loading and off-loading gantries; and also upgrading of existing bulk storage tanks secondary containment to meet current environmental requirements,” said Mokgatlhe.
The BOL CEO further said it is important for the country to be self sufficient especially since it is now diversifying its economy through coal beneficiation projects such as coal to liquids and associated by-products.
“An opportunity exists for Botswana to exploit her vast coal resources through environmentally friendly technologies,” he said. “True security of supply comes with being self-sufficient. We want to ensure efficient distribution of petroleum products to rural areas where multinationals are not able to operate.”
Botswana has limited investment in petroleum products logistics infrastructure, even though the annual national consumption of petroleum products is about 1.2 billion litres. In that regard, Botswana intends to promote investment in infrastructure which includes pipeline and local and coastal storage facilities to increase reliability of supply.
“This will facilitate security of supply and reduce over reliance on single source and route of supply. It will also ensure that we don’t import petroleum products of indeterminate quality,” said Mokgatlhe.
He further bemoaned lack of licensing of selected petroleum activities, which he said results in poor coordination in the running and development of the petroleum sector.
“Both suppliers and consumers are not protected. We have observed that there is serious stifling of citizen entrepreneurship participation in the petroleum industry and this is worrisome,” he said.
However, BOL intends to mitigate national challenges such as security of supply of petroleum products and facilitation of local content. The company will also maximize the development of national resources by capturing greater value from the resource sector.
“We are ensuring more equitable distribution of resource benefits and developing local content that will raise participation of domestic goods and services in the energy sector,” said Mokgatlhe.