ECONOMYNEXT – Scheduled power outages will commence in Sri Lanka on Monday (24), with one-hour manual load shedding Monday evening and two-hour outages starting Tuesday (25), the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) said.
Consumers will experience an hour’s outagebetween 5.30pm and 9.30pm Monday, according to the following schedule released by the CEB.
Sri Lanka’s ongoing power crisis is due to, among other reasons, a shortage in fuel and furnace oil supply to the CEB’s thermal generation plants by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) amid a forex shortage for imports and insufficient water levels at reservoirs for hydro power generation, on top of a breakdown at the Norochcholai coal power plant.
The CEB said this week’s load shedding is due to a lack of furnace oil and diesel to generate electricity during peak hours.
CEBEU member Eranga Kudahewa said from Tuesday onwards, power will be out for two hours between 1.30pm and 9.30pm every day. It is unclear at present whether this will follow the same schedule released for Monday.
“The Sapugaskanda power plant is completely shut down due to lack of furnace oil. And the barge power plant at the Colombo port only has enough furnace oil to generate electricity for another six to seven hours,” Kudahewa told reporters on Monday.
The Uthuru Janani power station in Chunnakam, Jaffna, has furnace oil for around two and a half days, said Kudahewa, adding that the Kelanitissa plant has enough diesel for another three and a half days.
There is a shortage of 100 megawatts to the national grid during the night peak, according to Kudahewa; hence the manual shedding Monday evening.
“From Tuesday (25), from 1.30pm to 9.30pm, there will be a two-hour power cut due to lack of furnace oil,” he said.
The CEB had initially recommended an hour-and-45-minute power cut in early January, but this was not implemented after the CPC supplied some stocks of furnace oil and diesel to the CEB.
However, due to lack of foreign reserves, Sri Lanka is facing difficulties in obtaining furnace oil and fuel for power generation as well as for daily transport and other consumption of the country.
Meanwhile, Power Minister Gamini Lokuge claimed that there are attempts to purchase more power from Sri Lanka’s independent power suppliers rather than relying on state owned plants.
“We always try to provide electricity without any power shedding,” Lokuge told reporters on Monday.
“What I see is, everyone indirectly trying to say we should depend on the independent thermal power plants. They are not thinking about a way to generate electricity using our own machines,” he said.
The press briefing was held at Lokuge’s residence which was also undergoing a blackout.
The Monday morning outage reported in some areas including his own, he said, was due to a breakdown.
“I discussed this issue with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today, and the president instructed me to talk to the Central Bank governor to secure funds for furnace oil,” the minister said.
“I have been informed that some furnace oil is still remaining in the power plants that we have shut down. There is around 2,000-25,00 metric tons left. I have asked officials to look in to it and transfer that oil to the power plants that are currently operating,” he said.
Even though the engineer’s union has warned about a power cut, Lokuge said the CEB is trying to manage the situation. However, if a power shedding is to be done, a schedule will be issued, he said at the time.
“We believe the Norochcholai power plant that runs on coal will be fully operational again from January 25 onwards,” he said. (Colombo/ Jan 24/2022)