Sri Lanka awaits China talks on Hambantota bunkering: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – A decision on awarding a concession to operate ship re-fuelling (bunkers) services from Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port is awaiting the outcome of talks with China, Ports Minister Arjuna Ranatunga said.

"We need to see what China is looking at," Minister Ranatunga told foreign correspondents in Colombo.

"We are awaiting proper advice from the government regarding the Chinese."

The Sri Lanka Ports Authority called for expression of interest from bunker players with international experience to sell bunkers from Hambantota Port, which is by the side of the main East-West sea lane and over 200 ship are estimated to pass the harbour each day.

The port has a bunkering tank farm designed and built by the Chinese and is owned by the SLPA.

Under Minister Ranatunga, the SLPA invited a large international bunker player or an oil major to run bunkering services.

EOIs closed on August 23.

Minister Ranatunga said a decision will be made probably within a month.

Sri Lanka is in talks with China to develop more business at loss-making Hambantota Port involving an adjacent industrial zone. The government is also negotiating with China to find an investor for Mattala Airport, also in Hambantota.

Attempts by the state-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority to run a bunkering monopoly instead of inviting private players led to massive losses, as oil prices fell after a large purchase of stock. (Colombo/Aug27/2016)





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