Local motorists could soon have the option of which type of fuel they want to use on their vehicles if a local company scouring for Coal Bed Methane in the Central District of Botswana strikes gas.
Kalahari Energy, a gas exploration and development company specialising in extraction of CBM from coal, has said consumers interested in squeezing every last efficiency out of their budgets will in the next few years be able to turn to vehicles that run on alternative fuels other than petrol and diesel.
A director at the company, Michael Richardson, explained that one possible use of the gas that his company will extract at Mmashoro will be convert cars that are currently running on petrol and diesel to gas ‘fuelled’.
Kalahari Energy possesses several prospecting permits in┬áEastern part of the country along the eastern side of the Kalahari Karoo Basin and is still in the exploration phase.
“However, should soon be in a position to convert these prospecting permits into mining licences,” Richardson said. Should the company obtain gas mining licenses from the government then prospective car owners would be able to buy vehicles that are run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in the next few years.
The company is expected to submit a business case to the government through the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water which has been tasked to issue mining licenses of all minerals in the country.
While natural gas vehicles are not likely to become a major part of the local private car market in the near future, especially when hybrid and diesel powered vehicles are believed to be offering better range and power, commercial transit and fleet operators can benefit from the reduced cost of natural gas versus its oil-based counterparts, without the limitations of natural gas having a negative impact on operations.
“We are looking to convert some of our vehicles as well as run a pilot projects that could use the gas that we will be producing,” Kalahari Energy Chief Executive, Steve Martins said.
The ultimate aim is to have some if not all the public transport being run on gas which could help the local market wean itself off of oil.
Around the world, legislators, non-governmental organisations and major corporations are showing leadership in the move away from fossil fuels to more advanced sources of power generation. While local experts tout the natural gas as a cheaper, more abundant and cleaner fuel to develop, they also cite maintenance and infrastructural barriers in the local industry.
“They need to prove to us as government that indeed there is abundance of gas and that indeed the project will be sustainable as well as the fact that they have adequate resources to go into such kind of business,” warned Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Minerals energy, Nchidzi Mmolawa.