An Echelon Media Company
Sunday December 10th, 2023

X-Press Pearl fire orgin is still a mystery, Sri Lanka official says

ECONOMYNEXT – An investigation is needed to find whether there was a link between an acid leak on a container on deck and a fire which took place in a hold of the ill-fated MV X-Press Pearl belowdecks, while anchored off Sri Lanka, an official said.

“People are speculating that this (acid leak) led to the fire,” Colombo Harbhour Master Captain Nirmal de Silva told reporters.

“Actually this (leaking container) was on deck. The fire started in the Number 02 hold. There will be investigations done by surveyors. It could be a coincidence.

X-Press Pearl had found a leaking container while in the Arabian Sea and had asked Hamad Port in Qatar and Hazira Port in India to offload it but the request had been denied saying they had no facilities.

The ship had arrived in Colombo late night on May 19 and had been anchored waiting for a slot at Colombo International Container Terminal, run by China’s CM Ports.

The acid was leaking probably due to incorrect packaging, an X-Press Feeders official had said.

At around 1000am a request had been made by email to ‘re-work’ the container.

De Silva said Colombo Port had the facilities to help the ship.

“This is not an out of the way thing,” de Silva said. “Sometimes containers which are discharged for transshipment also we get these leaks.

“We do these re-work operations taking into account precautions that need to be taken, depending on the danger of that chemical. All that is given in the safety data sheets.”

“We also have an obligation to help. We are a maritime hub, so we should be able to assist and facilitate with services that go with it.”

Shortly after the re-work request was made the ship had reported a fire in the hold and later said it had been put out.

De Silva said ships had their own fire extinguishing systems, involving pumping carbon dioxide into the hold which is usually a reliable way to extinguish a fire belowdecks.

However the fire had later re-ignited and the vessel had called for help.

Possibly the hold was not fully sealed and the CO2 may have leaked, de Silva said.

Colombo Port had then dispatched its fire tug.

Sri Lanka also had a legal obligation to assist vessels in distress.

“When someone is in distress, and requesting assistance, we have to provide that assistance to save lives property and our marine environment,” de Silva said.

The incident had occurred within Sri Lanka’s search and rescue (SAR) region under the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre, where the Navy had been empowered to provide the services, he said.

The owners had sent a team from SMIT Salvage and also called in the multipurpose tug Posh Teal which had arrived within 6 hours.

But bad weather had fanned the flames, driving the blaze out of control.

Sri Lanka’s Minister of State Minister of Urban Development, Coast Conservation Nalaka Godahewa said out of the 1,400 odd containers in the ship, over 500 were destined for Colombo.

It was the third call at Colombo of the newly built vessel which was delivered in February 2021. The first call at Colombo was March 17 and it had left on March 18. The second call was on 17 April and left on 18 April.

As of May 28, the fire was confined to the stern of X-Press Pearl. Most of the cargo believed to have been destroyed Minister Godahewa said. (Colombo/May28/2021)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

ADB USD200mn loan for Sri Lanka economic stabilization efforts

ECONOMYNEXT – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US 200 million dollar concessional loan to Sri Lanka to help stabilize the country’s finance sector.

The Financial Sector Stability and Reforms Program comprises two subprograms of IS 200 million dollars each, according to a statement by the ADB.

“The program’s overarching development objective is fully aligned with the country’s strategy of maintaining finance sector stability, while ensuring that banks are well-positioned for eventual recovery,” ADB Country Director for Sri Lanka Takafumi Kadono was quoted as saying in the statement.

“The expected development outcome is a stable financial system providing access to affordable finance for businesses in various sectors of the economy.”

The ADB statement continues:

“Subprogram 1 targets short-term stabilization and crisis management measures that were implemented in 2023, while subprogram 2 is planned to be implemented in 2024 and focuses on structural reforms and long-term actions to restore growth in the banking sector.

The program will help strengthen the stability and governance of the country’s banking sector; improve the banking sector’s asset quality; and deepen sustainable and inclusive finance, particularly for women-led micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.

According to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest review, Sri Lanka’s economy is showing tentative signs of stabilization, although a full economic recovery is not yet assured.

The program is a follow-on assistance from ADB’s crisis response under the special policy-based loan that was approved for Sri Lanka in May 2023.

It is aligned with the fourth pillar of the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility provided to Sri Lanka to help the country regain financial stability.

It is also in line with the government’s reform agenda, including strengthening the operational independence of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) and its designation as the country’s macroprudential authority.

In designing this subprogram 1 loan, ADB has maintained close coordination and collaboration with the IMF to design targeted regulatory reforms for the banking sector—including the asset quality review—and with the World Bank on strengthening the deposit insurance scheme.

“The loan is accompanied by a $1 million grant from ADB’s Technical Assistance Special Fund to provide advisory, knowledge, and institutional capacity building for Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Finance and CBSL.”

Continue Reading

Sri Lank in blackout as power grid hit by cascading failure

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka suffered a blackout as Saturday evening as the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board grid was hit by a cascading power failure.

The cascading failure is believed to have been triggered by the failure of the Kothmale-Biyagama transmission line.

“The Ceylon Electricity Board wishes to inform our customers that due to the failure of Kotmale – Biyagama main transmission line, an island wide power failure has occurred,” CEB Spokesman Noel Priyantha said.

“Step by step restorations are underway and it may take few hours to completely restore the power supply.”

With hydro plants running flat out, a outage of the line tends to create a big imbalance in the demand and supply, leading to tripping of more lines and generators.

Lines can trip due to lightening strikes, or equipment failures.

Sri Lanka last suffered a cascading failure in December 2021, due to the failure of the same transmission line.

RelatedSri Lanka power blackout as grid hit by cascading failure

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka to host regional Food and Agriculture Organization conference

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will host the 37th session of the Asia Pacific Regional Conference (APRC) of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), from February 19-22, 2024 in Colombo.

The Conference will bring together agriculture ministers and officials from 46 countries across the region to discuss challenges in food and agriculture.

“The 37th APRC will provide a vital platform for regional collaboration, benefitting the agricultural landscape, fisheries sector and environment of Sri Lanka,” Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said at a press briefing on Friday (8) to announce the conference.

FAO has had an active presence in Sri Lanka for over 40 years. “FAO has supported the country in the implementation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), and the development of the fisheries sector for growth and climate resilience,” Vimlendra Sharan, FAO Representative for Sri Lanka and the Maldives said.

“The APRC conference will be an opportunity to highlight the innovative approaches introduced in partnership with the government.”

By hosting APRC, Sri Lanka hopes to demonstrate the country’s dedication to the growth of sustainable agriculture, and showcase its commitment to sustainable agricultural development.

The APRC agenda will include a forum on agritourism, especially requested by the Sri Lankan government.

Continue Reading