The Sri Lankan energy minister Udaya Gammanpila has announced the construction of three new storage tanks in the country, as well as the intention to ‘re-acquire’ 99 oil tanks currently leased to Indian Oil Corporation.
Gammanpila officially launched works on the three 29,000 m3 oil storage tanks at the Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminal at Kolonnawa, near Colombo, on 17 February 2021. The ceremony was attended by dignitaries from Ceylon Petroleum, the Sri Lankan government, and trade unions.
Separately, Gammanpila held talks with the Indian High Commissioner, Gopal Bagley, in Colombo on 14 February to discuss issues related to the energy industry. According to the Press Trust of India (PTI), the talks were related to the re-acquisition of 99 World War II era tanks in the eastern port of Trincomalee. The tanks were abandoned following the war but were leased to Indian Oil in 2003 for 30 years, with the firm also receiving a third share of the government entity which owns them. PTI reports that local trade unions had been campaigning for the government to take over the tanks again.
Gammanpila told journalists at an event on 17 February 2021 that Bagley had been ‘flexible’ and agreed to all the conditions set out regarding the tanks.
‘A majority of ships which sail around Trincomalee are from India. So we need India’s cooperation to win their market,’ said Gammanpila, adding: ‘I am proud to announce that the oil tanks the use of which had been denied to us since 2003 will be soon ours.’
Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror reports that the tanks will be able to offer bunkering facilities.
Indian Oil has yet to publicly comment on the news.
Ceylon Petroleum said in June 2020 that it hoped to renovate 25 tanks at the site to provide better storage and distribution services in Sri Lanka’s North, East and North Central provinces.