After 70 days of closure, Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery was brought back online on Friday (27), the Energy Ministry announced.
The refinery was closed on March 20th due to the crude oil import crisis, and the Minister of Energy, Kanchana Wijesekara stated that the refinery will resume operations in six days.
Workers at the Sapugaskanda refinery say that there is a greater risk in restarting the refinery if crude oil cannot be ensured throughout.
The crude oil refinery in Sapugaskanda was reactivated after three months, with special crude oil being imported from Siberia for that purpose. However, workers at the refinery held a protest today (2) demanding for continuous crude oil supply to keep the refinery running.
Rangana Wijesinghe, President of the Collective to Protect the Sapugaskanda Refinery said that the Sapugaskanda refinery currently has refined furnace oil and kerosene in storage tanks, which can be supplied to the Kolonnawa petroleum terminal, while diesel and petrol can also be supplied in the coming days.
However, he said that the refinery will have to be closed down again if we new crude oil stocks are not received within 20 days.
Therefore, Wijesinghe pointed out that there is a greater risk when restarting the refinery, as hundreds of thousands of rupees are spent on closing the refinery and reopening it.
Nissos Delos, a Russian Tanker carrying 89,000 metric tons of crude oil which was ordered for emergency purchases on April 25th, has already reached Colombo.
Refinery workers said that the shipment would allow them to produce 1,000 MT of Kerosene daily, for two weeks.
The Trade Union Confederation for the Protection of Petroleum Resources also engaged in an agitation today (27) demanding that the operations of the refinery be continued without interruptions.
Chandana Prabath Ambavita, the Convener of the Trade Union Confederation for the Protection of Petroleum Resources demanded for the work on the refinery to run continuously, as no refinery anywhere in the world is designed to run intermittently.
“If the refinery operations are halted from time to time, it will not work. That will cause a lot of damage to our refinery. It does more invisible damage than we can see,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Russian media Ria Novosti reported citing the Russian Foreign Ministry that Russia has received an appeal from Sri Lanka for help to overcome the energy crisis, and issues of its provision are under consideration.
Commenting on the appeals to RIA Novosti, the Russian Foreign Ministry indicated that “we can confirm that such appeals were indeed received by the Government of the Russian Federation and the Russian Embassy in Sri Lanka.”
Answering a question about how Colombo will be provided with assistance, the Russian Foreign Ministry noted that “these issues are under consideration, and it is premature to talk about the results of it now.”