Talks on with foreign envoys to replensish Lanka’s oil stocks

The forex-strapped government is seeking to secure uninterrupted crude oil supplies on a long term payment plan.

The Energy Ministry yesterday revealed that Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila has discussed the possibility of working out such agreements with the Colombo-based senior Iranian and UAE diplomatic staff.

Energy Ministry Secretary K. D. R. Olga, Chairman, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation Sumith Wijesinghe and Deputy General Manager Mahendra Garusinghe participated in separate talks the leader of Pivithu Hela Urumaya Gammanpila held with Iranian and UAE diplomats on Monday (23).

Minister Gammanpila is expected to meet other embassy officials.

The talks took place in the wake of the recent arrest of retired petroleum sector trade union activist Ananda Palitha, who created panic buying by warning of an impending fuel shortage.

Minister Gammanpila recently told The Island that the disruption of tourism, drying up of foreign investments and sharp drop in foreign remittances by Lankan expatriate workers hindered Sri Lanka’s efforts to raise USD 3 bn required for annual fuel imports. The minister said that as a result of accumulated losses amounting to Rs 331 bn, the CPC was already a bankrupt enterprise.

During Eelam War IV, Sri Lanka secured an unprecedented agreement with Iran to ensure crude oil supplies at terms extremely favourable to Sri Lanka. M. M. Zuhair served as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Teheran at that time. But that arrangement was torpedoed when US sanctions on that country. (SF)

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