The Sri Lankan government on Sunday said it expects fuel availability in the country to improve within a week, with four fuel shipments, including three diesel, expected to arrive this month.
Addressing a media briefing, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara said the diesel shipment would reach Sri Lanka on July 8-9, July 11-14 and the third shipment on July 15-17. He said that the consignment of petrol would reach Sri Lanka on July 22-23.
Meanwhile, due to the current fuel shortage, the education ministry next week declared July 4 to July 8 as a holiday week for all government and state-approved private schools.
The session of Parliament has also been reduced to three days instead of the usual four days.
Since last week, state fueling unit Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) stopped issuing fuel to private vehicles, including those restricted to essential services.
Indian Oil Company managed Lanka IOC on a limited basis to individual customers triggering mile-long queues near LIOC’s more than 200 refilling stations.
Wijesekara said the government has made arrangements to procure fuel from LIOC’s storage in the eastern district of Trincomalee.
“We have paid US$11 million to LIOC on June 30 for the petrol shipments that arrived on July 22,” Wijesekara said. Indian Line of Credit (ILC) to complete the payment.
On Monday, the Sri Lankan government announced that only essential services would run from midnight to July 10 and all other operations would be temporarily suspended as the country of 22 million did not have enough fuel supplies.
Sri Lanka’s unprecedented economic crisis due to lack of foreign exchange has created a serious crisis in the energy sector.
Fuel shortage has led to long queues at retailers and with the end of the USD 700 million credit line extended by India, the pumps have run dry.
The Sri Lankan government is exploring options to buy subsidized oil from Russia, as the island nation desperately seeks to replenish its dwindling fuel reserves amid an unprecedented economic crisis caused by severe shortages of foreign exchange reserves.
Sri Lanka’s Energy and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera had gone to Qatar last week to negotiate a long-term fuel supply deal with the Gulf country.
Lanka IOC has expanded its distribution network by providing fuel continuously when the CPC pumps are largely dry.
The nearly bankrupt country, coupled with an acute foreign exchange crisis that resulted in foreign debt defaults, announced in April that it would make foreign debt repayments of about USD 7 billion out of about USD 25 billion due by 2026 for the year. is suspending.
Sri Lanka’s total external debt is $51 billion.
Sri Lankans are engaged in long queues for fuel and cooking gas as the government is unable to find dollars to import fuel and other essential commodities.