15th march 2011, www.thebottomline.lk, By Santhush Fernando
US-based Global Energy & Industrial Operations, Inc. has secured the first private oil refinery deal in Sri Lanka, under which a plant twice the size of the current state-run Sapugaskanda Refinery will be built in Trincomalee.
Although the project was earlier earmarked for Hambanthota and anticipated to process 150,000 bpd (barrels per day), it had been shifted to Trincomalee due to environmental concerns while production capacity had been brought down to 100,000 bpd.
The Bottom Line on March 13, 2011, exclusively reported that Global Energy & Industrial Operations, Inc. has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to set up a 150,000 BPD (Barrels Per Day) refinery in the emerging port city of Hambantota.
The Bottom Line learns that the Company had requested a guarantee from the government that it (CPC) will purchase 50 percent of the output (which is the gap between Sri Lanka’s requirement and the production capacity of the out-dated Sapugaskanda plant run by Ceylon Petroleum Corporation) while the remaining half would be intended for export.
The project is to kick start end 2011, with the financial closure expected by December. Although the project developers were negotiating with the banks it is learnt that, the venture faces several financial constraints.
However it is learnt that the Petroleum Industries Ministry would request modifications to GE&IO’s original proposal that the government purchases refined products at Singapore plats plus a premium of US $ 2.1 per barrel.
Earlier the refinery estimated to cost between US $ 1.5 to 2bn (Rs. 166.5 to 222bn), was projected to be thrice the size of the CPC Refinery and was mainly intended to refine crude oil for the export market, with Hambantota being poised to become a mega global hub in energy, shipping and aviation.
“It is highly commendable that this project was finally given the green light by authorities, as Sri Lanka’s energy security was facing a grave threat with authorities turning a blind eye to modifying the outdated Sapugaskanda refinery,” an energy expert told The Bottom Line on grounds of anonymity.
However, he lamented that it was unfortunate that the line ministry was not kept informed that when GE&IO singed an MoU on a petroleum industry-related project.
“Even the Ministry Secretary Titus Jayawardene was not aware of these developments.
How can the ministry take a proper decision on whether to go ahead with the US $ 2.2bn Sapugaskanda Project if it is not aware that an MoU was signed with a private party? The Ministry or the CPC cannot gamble with funds because these are public moneys which the country must repay later on. If the private refinery is coming up, it is good because we may not have to find a staggering amount such as Rs. 244.2bn (US$ 2.2bn),” he added.
Numerous energy experts and think tanks have time and again emphasised that Sri Lanka needs to properly implement its energy policy in transparent and investor-friendly manner, if the country was to emerge as a global player in the energy industry.
Meanwhile, the Rs. 244bn Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery Expansion and Modernisation (SOREM) project has been in the limbo since 2007 as Iranian and Sri Lankan authorities failed to agree on an exact modus operandi to implement the project. “Rather than the CPC, already embroiled in a major financial crisis, bearing a staggering cost of US$ 2.2 to upgrade Sapugaskanda, it is more prudent and commendable that a private party was allowed to proceed with an alternative, at an estimated cost of nearly half of the former,” he added.
Related Info :
• Global Energy to Set up a 150,000 bpd Refinery in Hambantota Magampura Port City
• Sri Lanka May Get $1.5bn from Iran to Expand Refinery