Sri Lanka has $267 billion worth of oil and gas resources hidden in the Mannar Basin in the North-West of the country where the government stands to gain $ 133.5 billion revenue after compensating investors, the Minister of Energy Udaya Gammanpila claimed.
The Minister made these remarks at a meeting of the Consultative Committee on Energy held in Parliament yesterday (07).
He said that although investors who invest in these oil and gas drills are given 50 per cent, the government could earn $133.5 billion, almost three times the total debt value of the country which is a total of $ 47 billion.
The Minister made this observation while briefing the Committee on the Petroleum Resources Bill to be tabled in Parliament for the second reading. Accordingly, the Bill was approved by the Committee.
The Minister further stated that this 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.
The Bill is set to introduce a strong legal framework to protect these large investments and it would also allow the appointment of a special committee to advise the minister, as billions of dollars will have to be invested in the industry,
Gammanpila noted 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 1940s, he pointed out that Sri Lanka has missed it due to various reasons.
“We took steps to hand over this task to experts on the subject matter through the establishment of the Petroleum Development Authority given the lack of understanding on the scope of subject the officials who were to take decisions on this regard previously had. Also, as the regulatory powers such as the issuance of licenses 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 this Authority. Also, a modern map was prepared to replace the existing traditional map for oil and gas exploration” the Minister added.
Typically, a country succeeds in one when drilling seven wells in the search for oil and gas according to world standards. The Norwegian government had to dig 31 wells for one success story whilst 3 out of 4 wells drilled in Sri Lanka were successful, the Minister said.
He revealed intentions to seek the assistance of Sri Lankan experts in the field from around the world in this regard.