The Sri Lankan government on Sunday said that it is hoping that the fuel availability in the country will improve in a week’s time with four fuel shipments, including three of diesel, likely to arrive this month.
Addressing a media briefing, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara said diesel shipments will reach Sri Lanka on July 8-9, July 11-14 and the third shipment on July 15-17. He said the petrol shipment will reach Sri Lanka on July 22-23.
Meanwhile, due to the current fuel shortage, the Education Ministry declared next week from July 4 to July 8 as a holiday week for all government and state-approved private schools.
The sessions of Parliament have also been curtailed to three days instead of the normal four days.
From last week, the state fuel entity Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) stopped issuing fuel to private vehicles with refilling only limited to essential services.
The Indian Oil Company managed Lanka IOC served the individual customers on a limited basis triggering miles long queues near LIOC’s over 200 refilling stations.
Wijesekara said the government has made arrangements to purchase fuel from the LIOC’s storage in the eastern district of Trincomalee.
“We have on June 30, paid USD 11 million to the LIOC for a petrol shipment scheduled to arrive on July 22,” Wijesekara said, adding on July 8 another USD 19.95 million would be paid to the LIOC while also using an amount left under the Indian Line of Credit (ILC) to complete the payment.
On Monday, the Sri Lankan government announced that only essential services will operate from midnight till July 10 and all other operations will be temporarily suspended as the country of 22 million did not have enough fuel supplies.
Sri Lanka’s unprecedented economic crisis caused by forex shortages has led to a severe crisis in the energy sector.
Fuel shortages have led to serpentine queues at retailers and with the end of the credit line worth USD 700 million granted by India, the pumps have run dry.
The Sri Lankan government is exploring options to purchase discounted oil from Russia, as the island nation desperately looks to replenish its dwindling fuel stocks amid an unprecedented economic crisis due to a crippling shortage of foreign exchange reserves.
Sri Lanka’s Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera flew to Qatar last week to negotiate a long-term fuel supply deal with the Gulf nation.
The Lanka IOC has expanded its distribution network by providing fuel continuously when the CPC pumps went largely dry.
The nearly-bankrupt country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, had announced in April that it is suspending nearly USD 7 billion foreign debt repayment due for this year out of about USD 25 billion due through 2026.
Sri Lanka’s total foreign debt stands at USD 51 billion.
Sri Lankans continue to languish in long fuel and cooking gas queues as the government is unable to find dollars to fund imports for fuel and other essentials.