Written by Tharushan Fernando
05 Feb, 2017 | 8:46 pm
The Committee on Public Enterprises has informed the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation to acquire the oil tanks situated in the Trincomalee Harbour as the Memorandum of Understanding between the IOC and CEYPETCO is not valid.
The Chairman of COPE stated that reports have been called at ministerial level in this regard.
The Trincomalee Harbour is the fifth largest natural port in the world. Its importance is further highlighted as a result of the oil tanks that were constructed within close proximity to China Bay during the second world war. There are 102 tanks with a capacity of 12,500 cubic metres at the location.
With only 100 tanks that are in a usable state, the area has been divided into two sections – with 17 tanks in the lower Tank Farm and 83 tanks in the Upper Tank Farm. The upper section is capable of filling locomotive oil tanks as well. Several tanks are being used by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation and 84 of them were leased to the Indian Oil Corporation in the year 2003 based on a Memorandum of Understanding between CEYPETCO and IOC.
The MoU states that the legal documents in this regard will be finalised within six months of the MoU being signed.
The Chairman of COPE says that ownership of all tanks in the areas, has reverted to the Government, as the legal documents had not been finalised as stated in the MoU.
A cabinet paper has been forwarded and a contract to provide a business plan has been given out to find out how this can be used in a manner that would benefit the country, according to the Minister of Petroleum Resources Development,Chandima Weerakkody
However, a group of IOC employees had interfered and caused hardships for employees of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation including a Deputy Manager when they arrived at the location on December 29, last year. The police had to intervene and extricate the CEYPETCO employees.
Chairman of Inter Company Employees’ Union,Wasantha Samarasinghe charged that the government is in fear of companies.
He explained that this belongs to the government and if there is oil that is stored there, it can be supplied to the whole region – and if used oil can be distributed to the north and the east – and in the case of a drought in the future, oil needs to be supplied to the power stations to generate electricity and that is why the CEYPETCO employees went there.
According to the chairman, the government has taken a policy decision and has given this to India as a ransom payment and that is why the IOC is doing this or else the minister is not implementing what is decided in the cabinet.
“They are saying to come there to take it with permission from India. The Trincomalee oil tanks, which are the property of our country. should be acquired by our country immediately”, he said.
When News 1st made inquiries, Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe said that the necessary steps will be taken soon.
The unions charge that CEYPETCO has lost a large portion of its income due to the agreement.
The Inter Company Employees’ Union say that two other companies have asked for this location to store their oil and the monthly charge that was agreed at that time was $1 Mn per month, and the amount will be larger as of recent.
“There are 100 tanks that can be used. They should not be waiting for COPE to say it. There is a policy in our country, there is an economic policy and this needs to be done. But the the government does not have a policy to develop the country. The only policy this government has is to sell. These oil tanks being given free of charge to India is an example to paying ransom to all those who helped Ranil Wickremesinghe to create the government”, it was stated.
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