Govt steps up fuel reser­voir plans

Lesotho Times - - Busi­ness - Retha­bile Pitso

EN­ERGY Min­is­ter Se­libe Mo­choboroane says plans are un­der­way to es­tab­lish a fuel stor­age fa­cil­ity to sup­ply the coun­try with var­i­ous petroleum prod­ucts.

In an in­ter­view with the Lesotho Times this week, Mr Mo­choboroane said the min­istry called for prospec­tive con­sul­tants to sub­mit bids for car­ry­ing out a four-month fea­si­bil­ity study for the con­struc­tion of the reser­voir.

“We are an­tic­i­pat­ing that by next month, we would have en­gaged a con­sul­tant who would then rec­om­mend the most strate­gic place to build a fuel reser­voir,” said the min­is­ter.

“It is very risky that, up to this day, Lesotho does not have its own fuel reser­voir con­sid­er­ing that any­thing hap­pen­ing in South Africa au­to­mat­i­cally af­fects Lesotho. For in­stance, in­dus­trial ac­tion in South Africa would re­sult in Lesotho be­ing un­able to ac­cess petrol, diesel and paraf­fin.”

Over the years, in­dus­trial strikes in South Africa re­sulted in acute fuel short­ages in Lesotho.

Mr Mo­choboroane said the modal­i­ties and lo­ca­tion of the reser­voir would be de­ter­mined by the rec­om­men­da­tions of the con­sul­tant and study tour of other coun­tries.

“Since this is the first time we are en­gag­ing in such a project, the min­istry and the Petroleum Fund board are plan­ning to em­bark on a study tour in Botswana and/or Swazi­land to learn how their went about it,” he said.

“As for the reser­voir, we are hop­ing it would be lo­cated in a cen­tral place be­tween the north­ern and south­ern parts of Lesotho to en­able easy ac­cess. But the fi­nal lo­ca­tion will be de­cided by the con­sul­tant.”

The project, the min­is­ter said, pre­sented Ba­sotho with op­por­tu­ni­ties to sup­ply petroleum prod­ucts.

“We will con­tinue to work with sup­pli­ers from out­side the coun­try and are in the process of ne­go­tiat- ing a frame­work for split­ting the sup­ply chain. The in­ten­tion is for 30 per­cent of the fuel to come from the lo­cal reser­voir upon its com­ple­tion,” he said.

“Many job op­por­tu­ni­ties will arise from the project, since the fuel will need to be dis­trib­uted across the coun­try. We have been ad­vised that even with the reser­voir in place, fuel can­not be al­lowed to re­main in one place for a long time.”

Mr Mo­choboroane said the gov­ern­ment would leave the dis­tri­bu­tion of the fuel coun­try­wide to the pri­vate sec­tor.

“Af­ter the project is com­pleted, there would be many op­por­tu­ni­ties for trans­port­ing the fuel to fill­ing sta­tions across the coun­try,” he said.

“The role of the gov­ern­ment would only be to level the play­ing field for the lo­cal pri­vate sec­tor.”

Ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates, Lesotho cur­rently im­ports around 20 mil­lion litres of petroleum prod­ucts in the form of paraf­fin, diesel and petrol from South Africa ev­ery month.

EN­ERGY Min­is­ter Se­libe Mo­choboroane

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