Minister of Energy Gamini Lokuge vows that queues outside filling stations will not be witnessed after Friday or Saturday. The Minister believes the public will be able to obtain fuel without having to wait in queues.
Minister Lokuge said the duration of power cuts will also reduce by Monday or Tuesday next week and normalcy will return in the country. The Minister said storage’s at present have 20,000MT of fuel while a 32,000MT shipment is being offloaded today.
He noted that petrol and diesel is being distributed since Saturday, while acknowledging that there are more diesel queues. Minister Lokuge said the Ceylon Electricity Board will also be provided diesel and furnace oil that is required in order to continue functions of power stations.
The Minister said they sought to bring an end to power cuts from the 5th of March, adding that certain areas have been experiencing short durations of power cuts. The Energy Minister also claimed that the government has no intention thus far to increase fuel prices.
Minister Lokuge said refineries are operating at low capacity and steps will be taken to ensure operations at 100 percent. He claimed the government is in talks to obtain crude oil from several companies for 40,000-90,000MT shipments adding that Letters of Credit have also been opened.
He said while certain conditions are being deliberated, the government is also attempting to secure two additional shipments of 90,000MT of crude oil. Minister Lokuge said through the Indian loan facility, seven to eight shipments of diesel, petrol, and airplane fuel will arrive in Sri Lanka after the 15th of March.
However he noted that the order placed will reduce as a barrel of Brent crude has increased to USD 230 in the world market. The Minister said they estimated the shipments to cost USD 32 million, while calculations indicate a cost of USD 50 million.
Despite the government incurring losses, the Minister said the people’s demand must be prioritised.