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POSTED AT 10:10 AM 29-03-2019

stronger legislative framework to attract oil and gas companies

PUCSL Public Consultation on National Policy for Natural Gas

Image Courtesy: LGL Limited

- Petroleum Resources Act completed in 2012 expected in 2013 is still with the Attorney General
- Government doesn’t possess resource or technical knowledge on its own

Sri Lanka needs a strong legislative framework to attract investors in the oil and gas industry. Therefore Industry stakeholders urged the authorities to speed up the passing of the Petroleum Resources Act to woo more investments to the country at the oral public consultation held on the proposed National Policy for Gas held at the BMICH on March 28.

Saliya Wickramasuriya an expert in the industry said, “the Petroleum Resources Act completed in 2012 expected in 2013 is still with the Attorney General. This is a hugely important document. The only people who read it are the oil and gas industry.”

Speaking on the on the new draft policy held by the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka, the energy regulator at a public consultation meeting in Colombo yesterday he said, “Give satisfaction to the oil and gas companies to invest and make this more than a piece of paper.”

Wickramasuriya who is currently the senior advisor to CEO of the Hambantota International Ports Group said, “speaking on behalf of oil and gas companies which invest in 20-30 year cycles which if they feel something is going to happen are not going to invest.” Wickramasuriya was a former director at the Petroleum Resources Development Secretariat (PRDS). Speaking on his time at the Secretariat Wickramasuriya said “In 2013 in our discussions with major oil companies they asked us questions that this policy does not answer.

How much gas does Sri Lanka need? How much will it pay for it? How much can they export? Where can they export? If they don’t have answers they are not going to invest.”

Wickramasuriya added “this document started in 2012 for the 2013 international bidding round for blocks in the Mannar basin. This was not a success at all. We need a stronger legislative framework. The Petroleum Resources Act completed in 2012 expected in 2013 is still with the Attorney General. This is a hugely important document. The only people who read it are the oil and gas industry.”

Uditha Doloswala, Manager CPC said “we will have to import LNG if we want to do bunkering. We agree with allowing private sector participation that doesn’t hinder state institutions. There should be no regulatory power to kill competition.”

Preeni Withanage director PRDS said, “we haven’t imported or produced natural gas yet. FDI is needed. The government can’t handle this we will have to go for a PPP.”

Ruchit Kandage Advisor PPP unit said “Sri Lanka is expected to have windfall financial benefits soon. We should develop a framework that minimizes fiscal exposure and optimizes benefits. We can’t engage in transactions that expose our country’s balance sheet. This should be spelt out in the policy statement.”

Vidhura Ralapanawe suggested, distributing equity of the project among the population as done in Alaska. Shavindranath Fernando of the IESL took issue with the public consultation being held by the PUCSL and not the PRDSL. Fernando urged for clarity between the boundaries of each institution and raised concerns with specific figures in the document. Mangala Yapa called for updating the policy continuously and the creation of a single credible entity managing demand and supply.

Dinesh Perera

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