Despite Sri Lanka announcing that it would partially take back the unused World War II time strategic oil storage depot in Trincomalee from Indian Oil Corporation’s local arm, the company is set to go ahead with its expansions plans in the island nation.
“We are going ahead with our expansion plans, including the setting up of a US$17 million bitumen handling facility. We are also looking to refurbish about 30 oil tanks in Trincomalee within the next two years, which may see an investment of about US$40 million,” Lanka IOC Managing Director Subodh Dakwale told Business Standard. He said the Sri Lankan government has not informed them about any proposal to take back the oil tanks.
Dakwale said the company was also working on a roadmap for larger investments in the coming years.
IndianOil had drawn up initial plans to set up its first refinery outside India in Sri Lanka with an investment of more than Rs. 20,000 crores but negotiations with the government are yet to take place. “There were plans for setting up refinery there but nothing has crystallised,” said Dakwale.
Lanka IOC bought a one-third share in the retail business from the Sri Lankan government way back in 2003. Currently, only 15 of the 99 tanks; each with a capacity of 12,000 kilolitres, owned by Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals Ltd are operational. “We are working on various possibilities on how to go ahead in utilising those facilities,” Dakwale added.
The China Bay Tank farm is the largest tank farm located between the Middle East and Singapore. There were clouds over the IOC investment in that country after the Sri Lanka information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that there were provisions to re-possess any tanks that were not used by Lanka IOC.
Just when Lanka IOC was dealing with the problem of taking back of oil tanks, it had to return for the first time a consignment of contaminated diesel fuel last week. Interestingly, according to Lanka IOC, the quality of fuel which was checked prior to exporting from Singapore was higher and turned sub-standard mid sea.
“We rejected the consignment and had filed a case at the Colombo High Court. Once, the Singapore company assured bank guarantee, it was returned back,” Dakwale said.
According to reports, the Colombo High Court had ordered the seizure of a ship belonging to a Vietnamese company, which was bringing a stock of 4500 metric tonnes of sub-standard diesel to the Trincomalee port. The consignment was valued at US$ 13 million, but had changed colour onboard.