Modern map prepared for oil and gas exploration

Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila yesterday said that oil and gas resources worth of USD 267 billion in the Mannar Basin could generate three times the total debt of the country.

The Minister was speaking at the Consultative Committee on Energy in Parliament yesterday.

The Minister said that although investors who invest in these oil and gas drills are given 50 per cent, the rest worth of USD 133.5 billions is under the Government and it is almost three times the total debt value of the country, which is USD 47 billion.

The Minister was briefing the Committee including the Parliamentarians on the Petroleum Resources Bill to be tabled in Parliament for the Second Reading. The Bill was approved by the Committee.

The Minister said that the Bill, which seeks to regulate and manage the exploration of petroleum resources, including the establishment of the Petroleum Development Authority of Sri Lanka, will be presented to Parliament as a matter of priority for the Government.

Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila said that the Norochcholai Power Plant could operate for 120 years only from the gas in the Mannar Basin and the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery could operate for 143 years with the oil alone.

“Although our neighbouring country India has been extracting oil and gas from the seas close to Sri Lanka since the 1940, Sri Lanka has missed it due to various reasons,” the Minister said.

After lengthy discussions with experts on the subject, it was identified that there were several reasons which contributed to the issue, the Minister said.

The Minister said that large companies around the world have not come to explore oil resources in Sri Lanka in the recent past due to various reasons. As the regulatory powers such as the issuance of licences were completely concentrated in the hands of the Minister, all activities had been disrupted when there was a change of the Minister. Therefore, we have decided to transfer all the powers of the Minister to the Board of Directors of the Authority. A modern map was prepared to replace the traditional map for oil and gas exploration” the Minister added. The Bill will also introduce a strong legal framework to protect these large investments and appoint a special committee to advise the Minister, as billions of dollars will have to be invested in the industry, the Minister said.

A country would succeed in one when drilling seven wells in search for oil and gas according to world standards. The Norwegian Government had to dig 31 wells for one success story whilst three out of four wells drilled in Sri Lanka were successful, the Minister said.

He also said that he will seek the assistance of Sri Lankan experts in the field from around the world in this regard.

Committee Members State Minister Jayantha Samaraweera, Parliamentarians Chandima Weerakkody, Nalin Bandara, Muditha Prishanthi, Gunathilaka Rajapaksha, B.Y.G Ratnasekera and Secretary to the Ministry K.D.R. Olga were present.

by Daily News Sri Lanka

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