Tlou Energy Limited, a multiple listed company, has achieved its initial sustained target of producing gas flows of approximately 20 000 standard feet per day at the Lesedi Three and Four coal bed methane (CMB) natural gas project.
In an operational report for the third quarter ending 30 September 2019, Tlou Energy managing director, Tony Gilby, said gas flow rates were anticipated to increase steadily at the two sites as the coal deposits became saturated. Tlou Energy is an Australian Securities Exchange, London Stock Exchange and Botswana Stock Exchange listed company focusing on delivering power in Botswana and the southern Africa through the exploration and development of CBM natural gas.
“Key events during the previous quarter (include) Lesedi 3 and 4 achieved initial sustained gas flows of approximately 20 thousand standard cubic feet per day (Mcfd) from each pod. Gas flow rates (are) anticipated to increase steadily as the coals become gas saturated,” Gilby said this week. He added that core-hole drilling utilising Tlou Energy's own drilling rig commenced in the Mamba project area, with the objective of providing valuable data required for the expansion of the company's gas reserves and contingent resources.
“During the (third quarter) quarter the company's operations made excellent progress with the Lesedi gas production pods having achieved sustained gas production rates. “Following completion of the first phase of production testing, including initial dewatering, reaching critical gas desorption point and commencing gas production, the pods commenced producing sustained gas flows. The initial rates were approximately 20 thousand standard cubic feet per day from each pod. This was an excellent start and the company is very encouraged by production data to date,” Gilby said.
The MD said gas production was continuing and, as with most new CBM developments, the rate was anticipated to continue increasing following further reduction of pressure in the coal and additional dewatering, with the aim to reach a peak and commercial gas flow rate as early as possible. “The current stage of production involves maintaining pressure on the reservoir to further reduce water production, so that the lateral wells become gas saturated, rather than water saturated. This is followed by reducing pressure in the wells to the desired level which, once achieved, is usually expected to significantly increase the gas flows from the wells.
“This is a metholodical and detailed process and takes time to achieve. The company will update the market on further progress in due course,” Gilby said. He anticipated that with the CBM projects not yet established in southern African region, Tlou Energy could pioneer CBM development within the region. “Successful results from this project could potentially facilitate the opening up of a whole new CBM basin in Botswana and be a significant boost not only for Tlou, but for the whole region, with the potential for Tlou to supply power within Botswana and also into neighbouring countries via the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP),” he said.
During the third quarter under review, Tlou Energy also commenced core-hole drilling in the Mamba project area. Operations are being conducted using Tlou Energy's core drilling rig and as the company is not using external drilling contractors, the costs of core drilling are relatively low. “Core-hole drilling and core analysis provides valuable information regarding coal quality and gas content. This data is required for the expansion of the company's gas reserves and contingent resources and providing information to assess new areas for potential development,” said Gilby.
In 2018, Tlou Energy was selected as the preferred bidder of a tender from the Ministry of Minerals Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security for the development of a CBM-fuelled power plant in the country. If successful, the negotiations will result in the company agreeing to a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the Government, whereby the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC), the national electricity utility, would purchase the power produced by Tlou Energy at the Lesedi project.
The tender negotiations are confidential and are being led by the Government. The government has confirmed its commitment to the development of CBM-fuelled pilot power plants and is in the process of sourcing an advisor to assist them in tender negotiations. Further information will be provided by the government in due course, with the next update expected after the country's general election. Tlou Energy has three project areas in the country, the Lesedi Project – currently under development and exploration, Boomslang Project – exploration and Lesedi CMB Project.
The Lesedi project covers an area of approximately 3,800 km2 and consists of four coal and CBM prospecting licences and a mining licence. The mining licence area is currently the focal point for the company's operations and includes the gas producing Lesedi 3 and 4 development wells. “The Lesedi project is the company's most advanced project, with plans in place to install gas-fired electricity generators and connect to the power grid in Botswana. Subject to results, the first electricity sales could commence in late 2020.
“The project has full environmental approval which includes gas extraction, electricity generation and construction of transmission lines. In addition, the company has approval for 20MW of solar generation. Clean CBM power is ideal for use in conjunction with solar projects,” Gilby said.
Despite Covid-19 interrupting trade worldwide, exporting companies in Botswana which benefited from the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) services realised P2.96 billion in export earnings during the period from April 2020 to March 2021.
In the preceding financial year, the sale of locally manufactured products in foreign markets had registered export revenue of P2, 427 billion against a target of P3, 211 billion BITC, which celebrates 10 years since establishment, continues to carry out several initiatives targeted towards expanding the Botswana export base in line with Botswana’s desire to be an export led economy, underpinned by a robust export promotion programme in line with the National Export Strategy.
The main products exported were swamp cruiser boats, pvc tanks and pvc pipes, ignition wiring sets, semi-precious stones, veterinary medicines, hair braids, coal, textiles (towels and t-shirts) and automobile batteries. These goods were destined mainly for South Africa, Zimbabwe, Austria, Germany, and Namibia.
With Covid-19 still a problem, BITC continues to roll out targeted virtual trade promotion missions across the SADC region with a view to seeking long-lasting market opportunities for locally manufactured products.
Recently, the Centre facilitated participation for Botswana companies at the Eastern Cape Development Council (ECDC) Virtual Export Symposium, the Botswana-Zimbabwe Virtual Trade Mission, the Botswana-Zambia Virtual Trade Mission, Botswana-South Africa Virtual Buyer/Seller Mission as well as the Botswana-Namibia Virtual Trade Mission.
BITC has introduced an e-Exporting programme aimed at assisting Botswana exporters to conduct business on several recommended e-commerce platforms. Due to the advent of COVID-19, BITC is currently promoting e-trade among companies through the establishment of e-commerce platforms and is assisting local companies to embrace digitisation by adopting e-commerce platforms to reach export markets as well as assisting local e-commerce platform developers to scale up their online marketplaces.
During the 2019/2020 financial year, BITC embarked on several initiatives targeted at growing exports in the country; facilitation of participation of local companies in international trade platforms in order to enhance export sales of local products and services into external markets.
BITC also helped in capacity development of local companies to compete in global markets and the nurturing of export awareness and culture among local manufacturers in order to enhance their skills and knowledge of export processes; and in development and implementation of trade facilitation tools that look to improve the overall ease of doing business in Botswana.
As part of building export capacity in 2019/20, six (6) companies were selected to initiate a process to be Organic and Fair Trade Certified. These companies are; Blue Pride (Pty) Ltd, Motlopi Beverages, Moringa Technology Industries (Pty) Ltd, Sleek Foods, Maungo Craft and Divine Morula.
In 2019 seven companies which were enrolled in the Botswana Exporter Development Programme were capacitated with attaining BOBS ISO 9001: 2015 certification. Three (3) companies successfully attained BOBS ISO 9001:2015 certification. These were Lithoflex (Pty) Ltd, General Packaging Industries and Power Engineering.
BITC’s annual flagship exhibition, Global Expo Botswana (GEB) to create opportunities for trade and strategic synergies between local and international companies. The Global Expo Botswana) is a premier business to business exposition that attracts FDI, expansion of domestic investment, promotion of exports of locally produced goods and services and promotion of trade between Botswana and other countries.
The portal also provides information on; measures, legal documents, and forms and procedures needed by Botswana companies that intend on doing business abroad. BITC continues to assist both potential and existing local manufacturing and service entities to realise their export ambitions. This assistance is pursued through the ambit of the Botswana Exporter Development Programme (BEDP) and the Trade Promotion Programme.
BEDP was revised in 2020 in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with a vision to developing a diversified export-based economy. The programme focuses mostly on capacitating companies to reach export readiness status.
Prices for goods and services in this country continue to increase, with the latest figures from Statistics Botswana showing that in May 2022, inflation rate rose to 11.9 percent from 9.6 percent recorded in April 2022.
According to Statistics Botswana update released this week, the largest upward contributions to the annual inflation rate in May 2022 came from increase in the cost of transport (7.2 percent), housing, water, electricity, gas & other Fuels (1.4 percent), food & non-alcoholic beverages (1.1 percent) and miscellaneous goods & services (0.8 percent).
With regard to regional inflation rates between April and May 2022, the Rural Villages inflation rate went up by 2.5 percentage points, from 9.6 percent in April to 12.1 percent in May 2022, according to the government owned statistics entity.
In the monthly update the entity stated that the Urban Villages inflation rate stood at 11.8 percent in May 2022, a rise of 2.4 percentage points from the April rate of 9.4 percent, whereas the Cities & Towns inflation rate recorded an increase of 1.9 percentage points, from 9.9 percent in April to 11.8 percent in May.
Commenting on the national Consumer Price Index, the entity stated that it went up by 2.6 percent, from 120.1 in April to 123.2 in May 2022. Statisticians from the entity noted that the transport group index registered an increase of 7.3 percent, from 134.5 in April to 144.2 in May, mainly due to the rise in retail pump prices for petrol and diesel by P1.54 and P2.74 per litre respectively, which effected on the 13th of May 2022.
The food & non-alcoholic beverages group index rose by 2.6 percent, from 118.6 in April 2022 to 121.6 in May 2022 and this came as a result of increase in prices of oils & fats, vegetables, bread & cereal, mineral waters, soft drinks, fruits & vegetables juices, fish (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen) and meat (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen), according to the Statisticians.
The Statisticians said the furnishing, household equipment & routine maintenance group index rose by 1.0 percent, from 111.6 in April 2022 to 112.7 in May 2022 and this was attributed to a general increase in prices of household appliances, glassware, tableware & household utensils and goods & services for household maintenance.
The prices for clothing & footwear group index moved from 109.4 to 110.4, registering a rise of 0.9 percent during the period under review. Bank of Botswana has projected higher inflation in the short term, associated with the likelihood of further increases in domestic fuel prices in response to persistent high international oil prices and added that the possible increase in public service salaries could add also upward pressure to inflation in this country.
In the latest June 2022 global economic prospects, released last week the World Bank has warned that low global economic growth and economic activity in global commodity markets such as China and Europe could negatively affect export revenues for Botswana and other Sub Saharan countries.
Recent data from Statistics Botswana show that Botswana’s exports destined to the global markets such as Asia and the European Union (EU) on monthly basis accounts for around 60.1 percent and 20.1 percent respectively.
The World Bank last week lowered its 2022 projections of global economic growth and indicated that the new forecasts could be bad news for countries like Botswana who are dependent on export mineral revenues. The Bank noted that just over two years after COVID-19 caused the deepest global recession since World War II, the world economy is again in danger and stated that this time it is facing high inflation and slow growth at the same time.
In the recent June projections, the bank lowered its forecast of global economic growth from the January 4.1 percent to 2.1 percent. “Our June forecasts reflect a sizable downgrade to the outlook: global growth is expected to slow sharply from 5.7 percent in 2021 to 2.9 percent this year. This also reflects a nearly one-third cut to our January 2022 forecast for this year of 4.1 percent,” a team of World Bank economists noted in the June 2022 Global Economic Prospects.
The World Bank indicated that exports from Botswana and other Sub Saharan countries could suffer from a substantial deceleration of activity in China and Europe. The Bank noted that exporters of industrial metals, crude oil, and ores such as Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, South Africa, and Zambia could suffer from a substantial deceleration of activity in China.
On the other hand a sharp contraction of growth in the euro area could hurt exporters of agricultural products such as beef, coffee, tea, tobacco, cotton, and textiles from Botswana, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Malawi. “The faster-than-expected deceleration of the global economy and increased volatility of commodity prices could hurt many SSA commodity exporters,” said World Bank President David Malpass.
Malpass indicated that subdued growth in the global markets for Botswana and other Sub Saharan exports will likely persist throughout the decade because of weak investment in most of the world.
He noted that with inflation now running at multi-decade highs in many countries and supply expected to grow slowly, inflation could remain higher for longer than currently anticipated. “Even if a global recession is averted, the pain of stagflation could persist for several years— unless major supply increases are set in motion. Amid the war in Ukraine, surging inflation, and rising interest rates, global economic growth is expected to slump in 2022. Several years of above-average inflation and below-average growth are now likely,” said Malpass.