The new Petroleum Resources Bill has been passed in Parliament with amendments.
The government presented the bill to facilitate the establishment of a Petroleum Development Authority and formulation of a National Policy on Upstream Petroleum Industry.
The new bill will replace the Petroleum Resources Act of 2003 and will enable the regulation of domestic petroleum resources through modern exploration, development and management practices in Sri Lanka.
Speaking during the second reading debate in Parliament, Minister of Energy Udaya Gammanpila rejected all allegations that the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation will be privatised through the bill.
Minister Gammanpila said the bill was presented to resolve the current financial crisis and to develop a mechanism to help explore the oil and gas deposits near the Mannar basin.
The Minister said the bill will enable them to formulate the legal framework and an opportunity to explore undetected oil and gas reserves in Sri Lankan waters.
Minister Gammanpila noted that according to the current valuations, the oil and gas deposits near the Mannar basin will be around US$ 280 billion.
He said the value of the entire loans obtained by the government is around US$ 35 billion while other government-affiliated entities have obtained US$ 12 billion.
Minister Gammanpila said the government of Sri Lanka has one of the lowest income rates.
He said therefore the bill and the measures taken to explore oil and gas deposits will help the country and the future generations.
Parliamentarian Kabir Hashim says it is futile to table new legislations to regulate the energy sector at a time, the government has handed over the Yugadanavi Power Plant in Kerawalapitiya.
MP Hashim said the LNG supply monopoly has been given to the US-based company through a deal.
He said this will be a major threat to the energy sector and the national security.
MP Kabir Hashim is of the view that the government has betrayed the country through the deal and is now attempting to distract the people through various means.
Meanwhile, National Peoples Power Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath says oil and gas deposits near the Mannar basin were detected over 20 years ago.
MP Herath said the first exploration license in the Mannar Basin was issued to a company from India.
MP Herath noted through the agreement 90 percent of the yield were given to the Indian firm and Sri Lanka would’ve received only 10 percent.
He said therefore a favourable agreement should be reached over the oil and gas deposits found near the Mannar basin.