Sri Lanka sends two ministers to Russia to witness oil in a difficult economy


Colombo, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka has sent two ministers to Russia to negotiate fuel. This is one of the essentials that the island nations of the Indian Ocean are almost in short supply in the ongoing economic crisis.

Electricity and energy minister Kanchana Wijesekera said the two ministers will leave for Russia on Monday to continue the negotiations Sri Lanka is doing to buy fuel directly with Russian authorities. ..

He urged people not to line up for fuel on Saturday and said new shipments would be delayed due to “banking and logistics reasons”.

He said a limited inventory of fuel would be distributed to limited stations throughout the next week. He said “public transport, generators and industry will be prioritized” until the next shipment arrives.

Residents had to queue for hours, sometimes days, to get fuel, and sometimes to rely on burning charcoal or palm leaves for cooking.

Wijesekera’s comments are made when a senior US delegation visits Sri Lanka and seeks ways to help the island nation cope with an unprecedented economic crisis and a serious shortage of essential supplies.

Global oil prices have skyrocketed since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. Russia is offering its crude oil at significant discounts, which is very attractive to many countries, while Washington and its allies are trying to reduce the flow of funds to support Moscow’s war effort.

Like other South Asian countries, Sri Lanka remains neutral to the war in Europe.

However, Wijesekera said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Russia’s ambassador to Sri Lanka are arranging fuel sales.

“There are advantages to refrigerating and purchasing oil directly from the Russian government and Russian companies. Discussions are ongoing,” he said.

The shortage has led to protests against the government and has recently demanded fuel.

Sri Lanka says it will not be able to repay $ 7 billion in external debt this year until the outcome of negotiations on a bailout with the International Monetary Fund. Until 2026, you’ll have to pay an average of $ 5 billion a year. Authorities have urged the IMF to lead a meeting to unite Sri Lankan lenders.

Last month, the country purchased 90,000 metric tonnes (99,000 tonnes) of Russian crude oil to reopen its only refinery, according to Wijesekera.

In an interview with the Associated Press in mid-June, Prime Minister Lanil Wiklamishinha said Sri Lanka was ready to buy oil from Russia, and his country desperately needed fuel, a national tradition. He added that he was trying to get oil and coal from a good supplier. middle east.

“If you can get it from another source, get it from there, otherwise (we) may have to go to Russia again,” he said.

Wicklamingha also said last week that the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation had a debt of $ 700 million, and as a result, no country or organization was willing to provide fuel.

Protesters occupied the entrance to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office for more than two months and demanded his resignation.

A U.S. delegation, led by Assistant Secretary of Finance Robert Capros and Assistant Secretary of State Kelly Caderling of South Asia and Central Asia, will begin a visit on Sunday and will meet with top Sri Lankan executives during their stay until Wednesday. is. ..