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Sunday August 14th, 2022

Partially sunken X-Press Pearl off Sri Lanka leaching grey material into sea

LEACHING: Grey sheen trailing away from half-sunken X-Press Pearl

ECONOMYNEXT – X-Press Pearl, a 37,000 deadweight tonne container vessel that sank off Sri Lanka after catching fire appears to be leaching a material that is causing a grey sheen, its owners said after satellite pictures showed a light coloured area trailing off the ship.

“A grey sheen has been observed emanating from the vessel, and water samples are currently being tested,” X-Press Feeders, the owners of the vessel said.

“Discolouration of the sea has been apparent since the vessel’s stern became submerged, and the remnants of the cargo in the 1486 containers that were on board were exposed to water.”

Planet Labs, a satellite imaging and intelligence company released pictures showing a long tongue of light-coloured sea leading away from the ship, similar to a spill spreading away in a current.

X-Press Pearl was carrying over 40 containers or above 800 tonnes of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) in solid form. Some of the caustic soda was stored just under a leaking acid container, separated by a hatch cover.

Caustic soda (NaOH), which is white, releases heat when it dissolves in water separating into Na+ and OH- ions, becoming colourless. Seawater however is sodium chloride. In the lab Na

The vessel also had around 50 containers of urea. The vessel was also carrying smaller amounts of other chemicals.

NaOH can react with other materials, including urea. There has been speculation that algae may be growing near the vessel.

Related

Sri Lanka to probe spill-like satellite images of X-Press Pearl wreck: Minister

Authorities in Sri Lanka have said that no fuel oil or bunker spill was visible.

“Inspections thus far by Sri Lankan Navy divers have found no evidence of a breach to the ships fuel oil tanks, and observations from the Salvors who remain on scene with the Sri Lankan Navy and Indian Coastguard are there has been no noticeable fuel oil spill,” X-Press Feeders said.

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Sri Lanka jet fuel shortages costing SriLankan Airlines US$7mmn a month

ECONOMYNEXT – A shortage of jet fuel in the country due to forex shortages is costing the state-run SriLankan Airlines an extra 7 million US dollars a month, though the airline is operating most of its schedule, an official said.

“Now we are running 90 percent of our flights even though there is no fuel in the country which is costing us about 7 million US dollars per month in extra and lost revenue,” Richard Nuttall, the Chief Commercial Officer of SriLanka Airlines told Economy Next at the sidelines of a media brief.

“To carry the extra fuel, we can’t carry all the freight we like to into the country.”

SriLankan Airlines was stopping at third countries like India to load up on fuel for long haul destinations.

Carrying fuel for the return journey, a tactic known as tinkering, forces an airline to cut down freight

The hit from fuel came after the airline SriLankan reported a profit of 1.7 million US dollars in the March 2022 quarter for the first time since 2006, after cutting costs such as staff costs and overheads; renegotiating supplier contracts and increasing cargo revenue.

Nuttall said few months ago they were not sure of even operating 30-40 percent of the flights due to lack of sufficient jet fuel in the country.

The state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation could not import enough jet fuel due to forex shortages coming from a broken soft-peg. Sri Lanka is currently undergoing the worst currency crises in the history of the island’s intermediate regime central bank.

The Ministry of Energy has said it had appointed a third party to import jet fuel.

“Its not sustainable but we have maintained operations,” Nuttall said. “We understand we will be getting jet fuel very soon.”

The currency collapse had reduced the spending power of holiday makers in Sri Lanka while tourists were also put off by fuel shortages and popular protests.

“While the tourist numbers are not that great there’s demand from Sri Lanka diaspora, Indians,” Nuttall said.

He says being a small airline has allowed them to be nimble and shift capacity.

“If we are getting more demand from one destination, we will put more flights there.”
(Colombo/Aug14/2022)

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Sri Lanka coconut auction prices continue to climb

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s average coconut prices grew 3.7 percent to 64,618.23 rupees for 1,000 nuts at the last auction held on Friday August 12, official data showed.

The highest price was 62,900 rupees for 1,000 nuts, while the lowest was 57,000 rupees at the auction conducted by Sri Lanka’s Coconut Development Authority.

Buyers offered 1,019,395 nuts at the auction and sold 576,906.

Exports of coconut-based products have risen by 12 percent in January to June to 434.48 million dollars from a year earlier, data show. (Colombo/Aug13/2022)

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Chinese tracking vessel cleared to dock at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port

Hambantota Port

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has given the green light to Chinese tracking vessel Yuang Wang 5 to dock at the Chinese-built Hambantota Port from August 16 to 22.

Sri Lankan authorities had first given clearance to the Chinese vessel on July 12, to make a port call at the Hambantota Port from August 11 to 17​ for replenishment purposes.

However, following a diplomatic standoff after concern about the tracking vessel’s anticipated arrival were reportedly raised by the US and India, Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry requested China to defer the port call until “further consultations”.

A report by Sri Lanka’s privately owned Times Online news website said Saturday August 13 morning that the foreign ministry has authorised the docking of the ship.

Related:

Sri Lanka permits entry to controversial Chinese tracking vessel Yuang Wang 5

The ministry’s official statement released Saturday evening confirmed that the ship has been given clearance to dock at the Hambantota Port for the new dates August 16 to 22.

“The Ministry wishes to reiterate Sri Lanka’s policy of cooperation and friendship with all countries. Security and cooperation in the neighbourhood is of utmost priority. It is Sri Lanka’s intention to safeguard the legitimate interests of all countries, in keeping with its international obligations. The Ministry is deeply appreciative of the support, solidarity and understanding of all countries, especially in the current juncture when the country is in the process of addressing severe economic challenges and engaging in multiple domestic processes to ensure the welfare of the Sri Lankan people,” the ministry said, without naming the stakeholder countries. (Colombo/Aug13/2022)

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