Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals Ltd. (CPSTL) has decided to suspend fuel distribution to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) from this week. CPSTL claimed that the CEB has an outstanding payment of over Rs. 90 billion and is also indirectly blocking the construction of a new pipeline to transfer fuel from vessels at sea to the Kollonawa oil storage facility.
Speaking to The private media, CPSTL Managing Director Raj Abdeen said the current pipeline which transfers oil from the ship to Kollonawa has been experiencing daily breakdowns.
“The current line is nearly 50 years old, and there are leakages. We are in the process of laying a new pipeline. However, squatters in the area through which the pipeline is placed, are not allowing us to complete the project,” he stated.
Abdeen said that one-and-a-half kilometres of the pipeline was already completed and only another 160 metres remain.
He alleged that Minister of Power Energy and Business Development Ravi Karunanayake was involved in preventing the project from being completed. A total of Rs. 1.7 billion was allocated for the new pipeline, Abdeen said.
He said that the unions within the CPSTL feel that Minister Karunanayake’s intervention was directly threatening the institution.
However, Minister Karunanayake stated that innocent people were wrongfully bereaved of their homes.
“Innocent people have been displaced because of this pipeline and this incident took place in my electoral district. I cannot allow this to happen. It is my job to provide security for the people in my district and I will not allow the CPSTL to jeopardise that,” he stated.
Responding to the Rs. 90 billion debt owed by the CEB to the CPSTL, Karunanayake stated that it is not his responsibility but the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance.
Sri Lanka’s fuel capacity in case of emergency currently stands at 13 to 14 days, and Abdeen stated that if the current pipelines were to get seriously damaged, there would be a fuel crisis in the country.
“The transportation system will crash along with tourism and all other sectors. We need to build this new pipeline,” Abdeen said.
When inquiring into the measures that would be adopted by the Ministry to provide uninterrupted electricity if the CPSTL terminates the supply of fuel to the CEB, Minister Karunanayake stated: “This is an issue of the Government and I will not be bullied.”