July 04, Colombo: Sri Lanka's crisis ridden petroleum authority, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) faced another obstacle today when a damaged buoy pumping oil to the storage facility halted unloading of refined crude.
The unloading of refined crude oil to the Muthurajawela oil storage facility had to be halted this morning after a burst in the pipeline on the buoy which pumps oil from deep sea off Uswetakeiyawa to the terminal.
A similar damaged buoy had resulted in the temporary closure of Sri Lanka's sole oil refinery at Sapugaskanda on June 25.
The Petroleum Corporation said in a statement if the affected pipeline is not repaired within the next 24 hours, the oil tanker currently being anchored in the sea off Uswetakeiyawa would have to be towed to Colombo harbor for unloading.
The process would incur CPC an extra cost of about US$120,000 including demurrage, the officials said.
CPC Managing Director Susantha de Silva told media that there would not be any fuel shortage due to the breakdowns and expressed suspicion that some acts of sabotage could be behind the more frequent disruptions of operations.
Petroleum Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa has dispelled the fears that the damaged buoy would result in a fuel shortage. He said the CPC has sufficient refined fuel in stock.
Trade unions meanwhile said the CPC would stand to incur losses of nearly Rs. 1 billion if operations at the Sapugaskanda Refinery are halted for another two weeks.
They said that an inquiry should be held with regard to these incidents on the directive of the President.
Unloading of two ships of crude oil which are anchored in Colombo port was suspended earlier due to leaks in the pipeline from the buoy to the storage tanks.
According to an official, CPC was paying US$ 50,000 each per day to the two ships as demurrage.
According to the Secretary of the Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya union at the CPC Ananda Palitha, the CPC incurs a loss of Rs. 50 million for each day of closing of the Sapugaskanda refinery.
The union officials say the refinery has not been renovated in 20 years and is experiencing serious technical issues. It is now in need of a complete overhaul and the country will lose 1,200 metric tons of locally refined fuel per day if the refinery breaks down, they warn.
Sapugaskanda Refinery produces 30 percent of the country's daily petrol and diesel needs, 80 percent of kerosene and 70 percent of aviation fuel needs.