Sri Lanka allocates oil exploration in Mannar

[TamilNet, Saturday, 20 January 2007, 06:05 GMT]
Sri Lanka has given one of eight blocks to explore for oil in Mannar to India and another to China, reports said this week. Sri Lanka is planning to allocate the rest of the six blocks in three months. A Norway-based company was originally handling the exploration process, but the Sri Lankan government has bought the information off it and passed it to an Australian firm for interpretation instead, the reports said. Colombo has already sold two sets of the available data to India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and British Gas.

The allocation announcement was made Thursday by Sri Lanka’s Railways and Transport, Petroleum and Petroleum Resources Minister, A H M Fowzie, on the sidelines of Petrotech conference in Delhi.

"Out of eight blocks, we have offered one to India, one to China. Both the blocks are in Mannar (in the northwest coast), closer to Kaveri basin. The balance of the block will be offered in three months time," he told reporters.

Norway-based TGS Nopek had conducted seismic surveys which have reportedly revealed the possibility of oil deposits off Sri Lanka, mainly in the Mannar Basin.

"Earlier, TGS Nopek was asked to do all things. But, there was a change in our policy and we bought the data for 10.5 million dollars and given it to Australia's spectrum. We are at an infant stage and need to put up infrastructure and human resources. Two data have already been sold to ONGC and British Gas," Fowzie said.

On downstream plans, Fowzie said the country was thinking of expanding its single refinery to 100,000 barrels per day capacity from the present 50,000 barrels per day.

The state-owned Daily News paper Saturday hailed the moves as auguring well for Sri Lanka’s fortunes vis-à-vis the rest of the world.

“It is too early to predict the quantity of oil that can ultimately be extracted from the deposits available around Sri Lanka, but it would not be churlish to speak of an economic and social revolution. Oil can, and does, transform nations,” the paper’s editorial said.

“Just one look at the Middle East is enough to convince even the most hardened sceptic of the power of oil.”

“These countries, many of which have no other natural resources or attractions, have become fabulously wealthy thanks to their crude oil.”

“They have become so powerful that even the Western industrial nations are at their mercy.”

 

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