The Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka has denied reports that Sri Lanka is to reacquire 99 oil storage tanks leased to Indian Oil Corporation, and says that the two countries will jointly develop the tanks.
On 17 February 2021, Sri Lankan and Indian media outlets widely reported comments from the Sri Lankan energy minister, Udaya Gammanpila, that the lease, agreed in 2017, had been abandoned and that the tanks at the tank farm at Trincomalee ‘will soon be ours’. Gammanpila also allegedly said that the Indian High Commissioner, Gopal Bagley, had been flexible and agreed to all the terms regarding the reacquisition of the tanks.
However, in a statement, the Indian High Commission says that there is ‘no truth’ in the reports and that Gammanpila’s remarks were incorrectly portrayed.
‘The two governments have consulted each other to explore mutually acceptable modalities for jointly developing and operating the facility in accordance with existing bilateral understandings, including the MoU of 2017,’ it says. ‘India looks forward to formal discussions on the matter, and expeditious implementation of their outcome to mutual benefit.’
Gammanpila has also now apparently ‘clarified’ his remarks. The Business Standard reports that he told reporters that the Trincomalee tanks will be operated jointly by a Sri Lanka government-controlled entity and an Indian partnership.