Daily Management Review

Sri Lanka's Energy Minister Warns Petrol Inventories Are Running Very Low


Sri Lanka's Energy Minister Warns Petrol Inventories Are Running Very Low
With the country facing its worst economic crisis in more than 70 years, Sri Lanka's energy minister has given a dire warning about the country's fuel stockpiles. Kanchana Wijesekera stated on Sunday that the country barely has enough petrol for less than a day under normal demand.
He also stated that its next gasoline shipment would be delayed for at least two weeks.
Sri Lanka suspended non-essential vehicle petrol and diesel sales last week as it struggles to pay for imports such as gasoline, food, and medicines.
Wijesekera told reporters that the country's stockpiles included 12,774 tonnes of diesel and 4,061 tonnes of gasoline.
"The next petrol shipment is expected between the 22nd and 23rd [of July]," he added.
A cargo of diesel is anticipated to arrive this weekend, but Wijesekera cautioned that the country does not have the funds to cover planned gasoline and crude oil imports.
He claimed that Sri Lanka's central bank could only provide $125 million for gasoline purchases, significantly less than the $587 million required for scheduled shipments. Wijesekera went on to say that the country owed $800 million to seven vendors for transactions made earlier this year.
It came after Sri Lanka restricted the sale of private automobile fuel until next week.
Experts believe it is the first government to take the dramatic step of suspending gasoline sales to the general public since the 1970s oil crisis, when fuel was rationed in the United States and Europe.
The island nation of 22 million people is experiencing its biggest economic crisis since obtaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1948, as it lacks sufficient foreign currency to pay for crucial goods imports.
Acute fuel, food, and medical shortages have contributed to record-high living costs in the country, where many people rely on motor vehicles for a wage.
Last Thursday, an IMF team concluded a new round of talks with Sri Lanka over a $3 billion bailout plan.
While no agreement has yet been achieved, the panel stated that it has made "substantial progress in outlining a macroeconomic and structural policy package."
It added that it had "witnessed some of the hardships currently faced by the Sri Lankan people, especially the poor and vulnerable who are affected disproportionately by the crisis".
In an effort to secure inexpensive oil supplies, the cash-strapped nation has also dispatched officials to major energy producers Russia and Qatar.