Sri Lanka’s sudden Petrol Crisis: What we know (VIDEO)

Sri Lanka’s sudden Petrol Crisis: What we know (VIDEO)

Written by Lahiru Fernando

06 Nov, 2017 | 10:44 pm

News 1st has been on the forefront, monitoring the latest crisis that has struck Sri Lanka.

Most people are aware that there is a shortage in petrol in fuel stations nationwide.

At present, there are certain fuel stations which are receiving fuel. There are some others which have queues  extending up to around hundred metres

And then, to any surrounding vehicle owner’s agony, there are stations with “No Petrol” signs.

Following is the chronology of events which led up to this situation;

November 3: Reports of a petrol shortage first emerged. Rumours began of a shipment of fuel which was rejected.

The rumour was later confirmed.  Sources said that a Lanka IOC fuel shipment was rejected due to substandard quality.

November 4: Subject Minister Arjuna Ranatunga issued a media release as the shortage intensified.

The minister called on the general public to use petrol sparingly.

“A shipment of fuel imported by Lanka IOC, proved to be of substandard quality and was therefore not unloaded” – statement by Arjuna Ranatunga – the Minister of Petroleum Resources Development.

Another report said that there is a tanker carrying a fuel order placed by CEYPETCO. This shipment was due to arrive on November 3rd or 4th. However, it was said that this shipment would in fact arrive in the country on November 8  or 9.

News 1st Report: What is the ‘real reason’ behind Sri Lanka’s sudden fuel shortage?

November 5: The subject Ministry’s Secretary said there is enough fuel in reserves to last until the 9th.

However, the Union President sang a different tune, saying the reserves will run out by Tuesday (November 7).

News 1st Report: Fuel crisis: Why is the IOC tanker still in Lankan waters?

November 6: Petroleum trade unions say that the fuel tanker purchased from Saudi Arabia will arrive in the country in two days – (Wednesday, November 8).

The subject Minister Arjuna Ranatunga has said CPC reserves could be utilised until Tuesday, November 7.

When the oil tanker reaches Colombo, the fuel will have to be unloaded, and then distributed to fuel stations across the country.

The only worry is that, as said by the Secretary of the Petroleum Trade Unions yesterday (November 5), the fuel will be available for distribution only on the 10th, as the tanker is expected to arrive on November 9.

Given the time taken for distribution, the fuel shortage will likely go on till November 11.

This situation was also confirmed by the President of CPC, Bandula Saman Kumara.

Secretary to the Ministry of Petroleum resources Upali Marasinghe says that 90% of the issue will be rectified today (November 6).

CEYPETCO announced that the corporation has sufficient fuel to last for four days, and that the current storage will be sufficient for the main modes of transport.

However, the Private Tank Owners Association of CEYPETCO says that the tank owners are without any jobs as the distribution of fuel has stalled.

Minister Arjuna Ranatunga’s Press Briefing (November 6): Someone wanted Min. Ranatunga to accept the rejected fuel stock

The other side of the story

Since Friday (November 3), we have been hearing what the government and the people had to say.

This time, it’s the turn of Lanka IOC;

According to the Managing Director of LIOC, their fuel shipment met the chemical specifications but was rejected “because of the impurities in the petrol”.

“There were some impurities in the visibility, so appearance was not meeting the expectations, that is why it was rejected.” MD Shyam Bohra said.

Bohra said that the shipment was from French multinational oil company ‘TOTAL’.

He also said that it is the supplier’s responsibility to replace the cargo. And when LIOC requested for a replacement, TOTAL wanted one more chance to test the product again.

“So that product was also tested and it was rejected again.”

Shyam Bohra told News 1st that LIOC decided to spot tender immediately and that a new shipment may be available on November 10.

“If they don’t replace the product, we will take legal action against TOTAL.”

But… Why is the rejected shipment still anchored in Trincomalee?

Bohra said: “They we will have to give the guarantee for taking it out of Sri Lankan waters. I cant comment why the ship is anchored there, because as far as we are concerned we have rejected the ship. They will have to get the Customs or Port permission to get out from this place.”

‘Attempts to transfer the substandard fuel?’

According to All Island Port General Services Union Chairman Sarath Gallage, there is another vessel anchored close to the ship carrying substandard fuel.

“They had been trying to transfer this fuel to another ship and then move away. Who is attempting to transfer this fuel into these tanks through the IOC?”

According to satellite date, the Hong Kong based ‘UNIQUE DEVELOPER’ vessel arrived in Trincomalee around October 30.

Is someone trying to exploit the fuel shortage through spot-purchasing?

“…The CPC used to operate on spot purchases and long term tenders when purchasing fuel. We hope to utilize both methods in a way that generates profits for the CPC. When the IOC shipment was rejected, we immediately called for a Spot Tender …” – Upali Marasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources Development.

NOTE: The shortage is only on petrol. The supply of diesel and kerosene remain unaffected.


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