The government is planning to hold crisis talks with the Vietnamese Government over the existing oil purchasing agreement, after it had allegedly cost the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), Rs 11.6 billion in losses.
Minister for Petroleum Industries Anura Priyadarshana Yapa told Ceylon Today, he would visit the Petro Vietnam (PV) Oil Company in Singapore immediately, to assess the present situation with regard to its agreement with the CPC.
He said the agreement between the PV Oil Company and the CPC had been renewed for three more months after Cabinet approval had been obtained. However, allegations have been made by the Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya (JSS) Petroleum Branch, that CPC has incurred an overall loss of Rs 11.6 billion as a result of the agreement.
"This is a government to government agreement which the Cabinet approved to extend by a further three months. We do not believe the allegations are credible, nor do we agree with the figures they have come up with. We only have reservations with regard to the fluctuation of the base prices of the oil we import from PV Oil Company," Minister Yapa said.
On being questioned whether the agreement was renewed under the same purchasing agreement as before, he said, "When entering into long-term agreements, different conditions have to be dealt with. The market is very volatile, and in such an agreement, we have to act accordingly."
He confirmed that he would report back to the Cabinet after visiting the PV Oil Company and holding discussions with their officials.
JSS Petroleum Branch Secretary, Ananda Palitha, told Ceylon Today, if the agreement is being renewed under the same purchasing agreement, it would tantamount to blatant corruption.
Responding to inquiries pertaining to possible future plans by the ministry to import oil from companies in possession of their own refineries, a move that the JSS Petroleum Branch said would be "a step forward for the country," Minister Yapa said, "We are striving to expand our oil trading market. So far, we have looked at three categories from which we can import oil – as traders having ownership of refineries, small-scale traders without refineries, and large-scale traders without refineries. The scope of our present market for importing fuel is very small."
Claiming that Sri Lanka is open to anyone who wants to trade in oil, he said, "Most of the companies under consideration have trading arms in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Singapore. Cost wise, it is advantageous for us to import from these countries. So for long-term contracts, we will give priority to these companies."
He claimed that 92 different suppliers of oil are registered with the ministry, but only a handful of them supply oil to the country.