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Saturday October 1st, 2022

Sri Lanka’s Sapugaskanda oil refinery to resume operations on Aug 15: minister

ECONOMYNEXT –  Sri Lanka plans to resume operations of the Sapugaskanda oil refinery on August 15 upon the anticipated arrival of a crude oil shipment on August 13, Power & Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara said.

Even though 30 percent of the fuel needs of the country can be met with the refinery, crude oil suppliers are hesitating to supply oil with the international rating agencies downgrading the country due to the ongoing economic crisis, Wijesekara told parliament on Wednesday August 10.

The procurement process is still continuing, he said, adding that meanwhile ten suppliers have responded to tender calls, though eight of them have yet to make a final confirmation.

Wijesekera said due to the refinery being out of operation, kerosene supply to the industries were strictly limited but supply will likely resume on August 19 after restarting the refinery on August 15 after the arrival of the crude oil shipment.

“Over the past four weeks, we were giving some from the reserves we had to a few selected fishing harbours around the country,” he said.

“There are complaints that kerosene sent to fishing communities doesn’t reach them. Those supplies had been purchased by private bus owners instead, to use as a substitute for diesel. That needs be stopped as well.”

Wijesekara said, with one litre being sold at 87 rupees, it is hard to manage the supply.

“The government is also discussing a price revision for kerosene under a different programme. It has been proposed to introduce a different price scheme to fishing communities, industries and for low income families,” he said.

Answering a question by opposition MP Lakshman Kiriella regarding a 400 million rupee payment made to refinery workers, Minister Wijesekara said the amount had been paid as overtime payments for the workers.

“I asked the CPC management and the CPC distribution committee about this. The general manager said, in the recent past 2.5-3 billion rupees had been paid as overtime for the workers,” he said, without specifying a time period.

“But it was limited. From March to May, the refinery was in operation. We only closed it last month. Even though the CPC limited the fuel distribution to filling stations, it continued to distribute to essential services, such as airports, the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB), industries, and ports. Distribution workers were working all seven days,” he said.

“For the health sector we allocated Friday and Saturday to acquire fuel. People who worked on weekends were given this overtime payment. It was brought down from 2.5 billion to 400 million. It must be paid. But in the future we will do this under strict management and details regarding who was paid and how much was paid will be presented to parliament,” he said. (Colombo/Aug10/2022)

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