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Lesedi production testing lights up

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) London Stock Exchange (AIM) and  Botswana Stock Exchange(BSE) mining company Tlou Energy has this week revealed positive progress in their Lesedi project as  production  testing at its Lesedi 3 development pod has commenced. Tlou focuses on the delivering power in Botswana and southern Africa through the development of coal bed methane (CBM).

According to Tlou when making an update on its Lesedi project this week, drilling operations at the Lesedi 3 development pod were completed earlier this month. Already production equipment has been installed and production testing is now underway, according to the energy company. Production testing involves de‐watering and lowering of the pressure in the coal seam to achieve gas flow, according to Tlou Energy. The testing procedures are expected to drag on until the coming months as initial performance data expected in the second quarter of 2019 or around May and June.

When explaining the drilling phase as the Tlou promises further updates as the drilling operations continue, the company said:  “Drilling  has  also  been  completed  on  the  first  of  two  lateral  sections  (Lesedi  4A)  of  the  Lesedi  4 development pod.  Lesedi 4A was drilled ~1,435m measured depth and successfully intersected with vertical production well Lesedi 4P.  Drilling of the second lateral well (Lesedi 4B) is ongoing.  This well is planned to be the final well in the current drilling phase.  

Last year Tlou started to drilling development wells at its gas field which were being drilled as ‘dual lateral pods’, comprising a single vertical production well intersected by two lateral wells. According to Tlou Energy, the lateral wells are being drilled through  the  gassy  coal  seam  with  gas  extracted  from  this  coal  produced  through  the  vertical  production  well  where  it  can  be  gathered and used  for power generation.   Pod  One  is  designated  ‘Lesedi  3’  and comprises  a  vertical  production  well  (‘Lesedi 3P’) and two lateral wells (‘Lesedi  3A’ & ‘Lesedi 3B’) and  Pod Two is designated  ‘Lesedi 4’,

 According to Tlou, if testing  results are positive,  these  wells  will  form  part  of  the  Company’s  initial  gas‐to‐power  project  which  will  include  installation  of  transmission lines and grid connection.  As a result of the achievements during the period, we are in a good position to make further significant advancements in the months ahead. We are proceeding with a series of value adding field operations, the most significant of which is the drilling of initial development wells (Lesedi 3 and 4) which is on-going.

These wells have been positioned in the best technical location and orientation to potentially result in enhanced gas flows compared to what has already been achieved at Selemo. The results of the recently acquired seismic data coupled with an extensive geological review of our area by our independent geological consultants have determined the optimum positioning for the current drilling campaign.

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Botswana on high red alert as AML joins Covid-19 to plague mankind

21st September 2020

This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.

The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.

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Finance Committee cautions Gov’t against imprudent raising of debt levels

21st September 2020
Finance Committe Chairman: Thapelo Letsholo

Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.

He was speaking in  Parliament on Tuesday delivering  Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a  motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.

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Gov’t Investment Account drying up fast!  

21st September 2020
Dr Matsheka

Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.

The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.

The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.

The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.

This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.

Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.

Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.

However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.

Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.

When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.

This  as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.

Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.

The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.

Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.

In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.

Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.

Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.

Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.

Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance   Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”

He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”

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