No trustworthy investor, manpower at SLPDA – COPA

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It is difficult to find a reliable investor and the number of employees at the Sri Lanka Petroleum Development Authority (SLPDA) is not sufficient for natural gas exploration in the Mannar Basin, officials at the Ministry of Energy told the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA).

This was discussed at the COPA meeting held on Thursday (5). The meeting headed by MP Lasantha Alagiyawanna, examined the Auditor General’s reports for 2018, 2019 and 2020 and performance of the Ministry of Energy.

According to COPA’s findings in 2016, the Chief Accounting Officer mentioned there are about five billion barrels of crude oil and about five trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Mannar Basin, which is enough to meet demand for about 60 years.

The official added that the aforesaid deposits could be used to increase the country’s power supply to 1130 KW and the natural gas production would bring approximately USD 200 billion to the country in various sectors within a span of 25 years.

However, COPA questioned officials on their failure to explore this area and plan out a proper procedure to generate revenue for the country from various sectors by commercially producing gas from the two identified deposits.

Officials said it was difficult to find a reliable investor for the project and added that the number of employees of the SLPDA is not enough to deal with this matter.

Furthermore, the modernisation and expansion of the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery and the construction of a new refinery were also discussed at the meeting.

According to the officials, a feasibility study has been carried out to set up a new oil refinery at Sapugaskanda. COPA recommended that a report be submitted in this regard.

Furthermore, vacancies in the staff and the daily oil requirement of the country were also discussed.

State Minister B.Y.G. Rathnasekara and MPs Duminda Dissanayake, Tissa Attanayake, Ashok Abeysinghe, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle and Cader Mastan were present at the meeting.

By Gagani Weerakoon and Methmalie Dissanayake