|Sanctions on Iranian crude may close Sri Lanka's only refinery||
Sri Lanka's only refinery in Sapugaskanda may be forced to suspend operations for at least two weeks if the petroleum authorities cannot get an order of Iranian crude in time, a petroleum official said.
The petroleum authority Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) last week said a delay could occur in crude oil importation due to United States imposed sanctions on Iran and in such an event the only refinery which processes 50,000 barrels of crude per day may have to be shut down.
The Corporation said it has been compelled to reduce the number of ships carrying crude oil to Sri Lanka from Iran, from 13 to 10, due to the U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Sri Lanka depends almost entirely on Iran for its crude oil supplies since the refinery at Sapugaskanda can only process Iranian crude.
General Manger of CPC Susantha Silva has told Reuters that the authority was trying to fill a shortfall after it was unable to bring in Iranian crude because of U.S. sanctions, but the refinery might not need to be shut if a crude order could be confirmed by Monday evening.
"We are still trying, even right now. If it is not, then we have no choice, but to shut down for two weeks... maybe by the 25th, if we (do not get) the confirmation ," Reuters quoted Silva.
However, the government has assured the public that there would not be a shortage of fuel as the government has enough stocks of refined fuel and in case of a delay in receiving crude oil from Iran, the authority will directly import refined fuel rather than importing crude and refining it to maintain fuel supplies.
The Chairman of the Lanka Petroleum Storage Terminal Company Major General M.R.W. De Soysa has said that fuel stocks sufficient for one month are stored in the main and provincial storages of the island.
He stressed that there will be no fuel shortages in the country as refined fuel stocks are directly imported. Orders have also been placed to import fuel which is necessary for the near future, he said.
In June, the United States exempted Sri Lanka along with six other countries from financial sanctions after they have agreed to reduce their imports of Iranian oil.
According to the authorities, modernization of the refinery has been discussed with several countries including Canada and the Czech Republic. Sri Lanka also plans to have discussions with China for help.
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