Thursday, June 1, 2023

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Sri Lanka discusses nuclear energy cooperation with Russia

Sri Lanka and Russia have discussed ways and means to build nuclear energy cooperation between the two countries.

Sri Lankan Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera said on Thursday that the South Asian country is discussing nuclear energy cooperation with Russia.

The minister said he met with the Russian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Levan Dzhagaryan on Thursday and discussed the requirements of Sri Lanka’s energy sector.

“We discussed cooperation on fuel requirements, refinery operations, challenges in coal supply and the memorandum of understanding signed for nuclear energy cooperation with Rosatom,” he said.

Rosatom is a Russian state-owned corporation specializing in nuclear energy, nuclear non-energy goods and high-tech products, according to the minister.

He said Russia can help address many of Sri Lanka’s energy problems “Sri Lanka struggled with securing energy supplies earlier this year. We are actively looking for energy cooperation with other nations and Russia can play a big role,” the minister said.

Russia on Wednesday said it is ready to expand trade cooperation with Sri Lanka, and noted several discussions had already been met focusing on the spheres of energy, agriculture, hospitality and health.

Addressing a Roundtable Discussion on Sri Lanka-Russian Trade and Investment Opportunities at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Russia Trade Commissioner Alexander Rybus revealed he already engaged with Sri Lanka’s ministry of energy on expanding trade between the two countries in the energy sector.

He noted discussions centred on the supply of oil and coal, but had also touched on potential for other projects. Touching on Russia’s competency on nuclear energy for power generation, Rybus said.

Russia could offer technical knowledge and investments in the sector. Pointing to people-linked difficulties in Sri Lanka concerning such developments, he said Russia could discuss different options including off-shore platforms.

The Russian Trade Commission falls directly under the purview of the country’s Prime Minister and Rybus said he is keen to invite a delegation of Russian businesses to come explore trade and investment opportunities in Sri Lanka.

He said Russia also manufactures “some of the cleanest” fertilizers and building materials based on chrysolite and that Sri Lanka could take better advantage of these solutions. He clarified there are toxic and harmless grades of chrysolite fibres and that Russia had commissioned further studies to pinpoint the safest substances. The report is due before the end of year.

The Russian Trade Delegation also expressed potential in developing Sri Lanka’s ship building capacity, digitalization of Government and transport sectors. With Russia offering more direct flights to Colombo than some major Indian cities, Rybus said it is important to consider developing tourism from Sri Lanka to Russia as well. The delegation had met with several Sri Lankan officials including the ministry of trade, energy, transport, education and others.

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