Sri Lanka's Ministry of Power and Energy has said that 24 companies from 10 countries, including India have evinced interest in selling petroleum products in the crisis-hit country's petroleum sector, according to media reports. Sri Lanka is in the midst of its worst economic crisis in decades, which is triggered by a severe paucity of foreign exchange reserves.
Sri Lanka's Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera said that 24 companies from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, the US, China, India, Russia, the UK, Malaysia, Norway and the Philippines have submitted proposals for the Expressions of Interest (EOI) to engage in the country's petroleum sector, news portal Colombo Page reported on Sunday.
In July, the Ministry of Power and Energy had called for EOI from established companies in petroleum producing countries using their funds for distribution and selling of petroleum products in Sri Lanka on a long-term basis. A ministry-appointed panel will now evaluate these proposals, issue Requests for Proposals and finalise the process in six weeks, the report said.
Indian Oil Corporation’s expansion
Last month, the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) said it would expand operations in Sri Lanka by opening 50 fuelling stations and investing in storage tanks and other equipment. The LIOC, the Sri Lankan arm of the Indian fuel retailer, was the sole entity in the country supplying fuel between late June and mid-July, when the bankrupt country faced extensive protests, forcing the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country as demonstrators stormed the Presidential palace.
The state-owned entity Ceylon Petroleum Corporation ran out of supplies in mid-June, restricting their supplies, and triggering essential services shortages across the debt-ridden country. Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe and a visiting IMF team on Friday held the second round of crucial talks to finalise a bailout package for the cash-strapped country.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had made a request for additional information pertaining to electricity tariff revisions and Excise Act and it was decided at Friday's meeting to provide the requested information by next Monday, the President's Office said in a statement.
The first round of talks were held on Wednesday. It is the second such visit from the IMF in three months. The visit comes at a time when Sri Lanka is scrambling to chalk out a staff-level agreement with the Washington-based global lender for a $5 billion programme, which could be the antidote for the country's current economic travails.
In mid-April, Sri Lanka declared its international debt default due to the forex crisis. The country owes $51 billion in foreign debt, of which $28 billion must be paid by 2027.