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CEB to reduce power cut duration this week with Indian aid

Instigating a sigh of relief for hudgreads of thousands of people waiting in queues at petrol stations countrywide and those hit by 13-hour-long power cuts,the Ceylon Electricity Board announced a reduction of power cut duration commencing this week

As 40,000 MT of diesel under the Indian Line of Credit of $500 million arrived at the Colombo harbour on Saturday the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) said that 13-hour power cuts would now be reduced to nearly 2 hours from Sunday 02.

CEB Chairman M.C. Ferdinando told journalists at a special media briefing that the CEB expects power cuts to be reduced to less than four hours, he said, adding that Indian Oil Company (IOC) has pledged support to provide 6,000 tons of diesel for power generation purposes.

“If the CEB receives a continuous supply of furnace oil and diesel, power cuts can be brought to an end,” Ferdinando expressed optimism.The CEB Chairman admitted that they were unable to meet the power demand at present.

He said majority of power generation at present is being met through coal power generation.

“CEB has called for eight tenders via a term contract for four tenders and others are via spot tenders. Of that four shipments are due this month, for which CEB needs to pay US$ 6 billion. However, we will ensure that we make those payments within the day,” Ferdinando explained.

He also said only 300 MW can be generated through hydro power plants, whilst 800 MW is required in the night time peak hours between 6:30 p.m. and to 10.00 p.m., which he claimed cannot be met.

Ferdinando also stressed that the thermal power plants generates 1,100 MW to the national grid at present, noting that this too is affected due to the shortage of fuel.

Sri Lanka’s power generation mainly depends on fuel and all except two plants have been shut down due to lack of diesel. For days, the country’s economy has been suffering due to lack of transportation of goods, while mechanised farming and fishing have come to a standstill with no diesel in the petrol stations.

The fourth consignment under the fuel Line of Credit from India followed three previous deliveries on March 16, 20 and 23. Over the last 50 days, India has supplied Sri Lanka nearly 200,000 MT including a consignment of 40,000 MT by Indian Oil Corporation outside the line of credit facility in February 2022.

“In view of the urgent nature of Sri Lanka’s requirement, India worked overtime to expeditiously finalise and implement both the lines of credit within weeks,” the Indian High Commission said.

Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay, who visited the Colombo harbour, observed that the fuel deliveries is a concrete manifestation of India’s commitment to the people of Sri Lanka in the current circumstances in line with its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.

Sri Lanka’s Energy Minister Gamini Lokuge, who visited the harbour to welcome the shipment, thanked India for helping at a critical moment.

Earlier, the Export Import Bank of India and the Government of Sri Lanka signed a $500 million Line of Credit Agreement for the purchase of petroleum products on February 2.

“In response to a separate and urgent request from the Government of Sri Lanka, extension of a credit facility of $1 billion for supply of essential items, including food and medicines, has been finalised and the first shipments of rice under this facility is expected to reach Sri Lanka soon,” the Indian High Commission in Colombo stated.

Earlier in January this year, India had provided financial assistance to Sri Lanka that included a credit swap of $400 million and deferment of an Asian Clearing Union payment of over $515 million.

In cumulative terms, Indian support to the people of Sri Lanka in the first quarter of 2022 is in excess of $2.5 billion, the High Commission added.

The High Commission also noted that the Government of India continues to encourage the efforts towards medium to long-term capacity creation through enhanced Indian investment in Sri Lanka in key sectors that include ports, renewable energy, manufacturing etc.

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