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Sri Lanka is considering purchase of oil from Russia: Minister

Sri Lanka is considering purchase of oil from Russia: Minister

COLOMBO: A senior minister said on Sunday that crisis-stricken Sri Lanka was looking at options to buy oil from Russia, adding that the island nation was looking intently to replenish its declining fuel reserves amid an unprecedented economic crisis due to declining foreign exchange reserves.

In a third price revision in over two months, on Sunday the price of petrol was increased by LKR 50 and diesel by LKR 60 respectively.

The move comes after the state-owned Refinery Ceylon Petroleum Corporation informed the Sri Lankan government on Saturday that there would be delays in fuel exports due to banking and logistics reasons.

Sri Lanka's Energy and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera has confirmed that the government is looking at options to buy oil from Russia in light of the dire situation.

"We have been exploring diplomatic channels. The last ship which was due to arrive was a Russian vessel. Our first letter of credit was rejected by international banks because the ship was owned by a Russian company," Wijesekera told reporters on Sunday.

He said the two ministers would travel to Russia on Monday to discuss fuel and other diplomatic matters.

The Sri Lankan government had reached out to different companies suggested by Russia's Embassy in Colombo last week for the procurement of crude.

Although he confirmed that four groups from the ministry were currently working to secure fuel imports, Wijeshekhara said the exact date of the delayed fuel export could not be ascertained.

Meanwhile, Wijesekara said the government has also decided to set up a token system at filling stations to deliver fuel to those queuing.

The scheme will come into effect from Monday and the government has sought the help of police and army officials for this.

Sri Lankans continue to be stuck in long queues for fuel and cooking gas as the government cannot find dollars to finance imports. So far, there have been about a dozen deaths in the fuel queue due to fatigue, physical ailments or accidents.

Indian credit lines for fuel and essentials have provided lifelines until ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund lead to a possible bailout. There have been street protests against the Gotabaya Rajapaksa regime in Sri Lanka since early April following the mismanagement of the financial crisis.

With PTI inputs

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