June 20, Colombo: The Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera has requested the public to restrict non-essential travel such as recreational travel and not to come to petrol queues in the next few days until June 23 unless in an emergency.
Minister Kanchana Wijesekera is making this request against the backdrop of allowing non-essential public servants to work from home for two weeks from today (June 20).
The government has decided not to hold schools in the Colombo zone of the Western Province and nearby cities, as well as in major cities in other provinces this week.
Addressing a special media briefing on the distribution of fuel in the country and the existing fuel reserves, the Minister said he expects a petrol tanker to arrive on June 23 and a diesel tanker on June 24.
The Minister said the island has received a stock of 40,000 metric tons of diesel and the Sapugaskanda refinery produces 600 metric tons of diesel daily. He also said there are sufficient stocks of diesel for the next 10 days.
Petrol reserves have dwindled and stocks of 92 octane petrol have dropped to 4,000 metric tons. The stock of 95 octane petrol has been reduced to 8300 metric tons.
Lanka IOC has an octane 92 petrol reserve of 10,000 metric tons.
In addition, 350 metric tons of petrol is produced daily from the Sapugaskanda refinery.
Minister Kanchana Wijesekera stated that public transport services will be given priority in issuing fuel. He says that 150 metric tons of fuel is required daily to run the trains and that fuel has been supplied as required.
He said that steps have been taken to continue to supply 600 metric tons of fuel required for SLTB and private buses and to supply 900,000 liters of diesel to all SLTB depots.
The Minister instructed all private buses not to go to other filling stations as the nearest SLTB depot will take steps to supply fuel to private buses.
The depot will also supply fuel to school buses, employee transport buses and foreign tourist transport buses and vans, the minister said.
"After today, no one can say that public transport has been disrupted, or that office services have been disrupted, or that diesel buses and vans carrying tourists have been disrupted, so we are constantly coordinating this. The Ministry guarantees to provide the required fuel,” the Minister said.
The Minister said steps have been taken in coordination with Pradeshiya Sabha, the Divisional Secretariat and the Police to identify full time three wheelers and prepare a list of names for professional three wheelers and a filling station in the area near them would be assigned to supply fuel to the three-wheelers.
He asked the three-wheelers not to register at petrol stations as it is prepared jointly by the Pradeshiya Sabha, the Divisional Secretariat and the police.
The Minister said it has been proposed to provide fuel to all vehicles except the above mentioned vehicles only two days a week according to the last digit on the license plate of the vehicle, the Minister said.
"For example, maybe vehicles with plates ending in 0s, 1s, 2s will get fuel on Mondays and Thursdays, 3s, 4s, 5s on Tuesdays and Fridays. 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s on Wednesdays. It could be Saturday or Sunday. That is what we are currently proposing," Wijesekera said.
"We expect to remove two-thirds of the queues daily from this plan," he added.
The Minister said that from this week onwards, priority will be given to refueling emergency medical personnel including doctors and police vehicles at selected petrol stations on Fridays.
He also said that attention was being paid to also provide fuel to vehicles engaged in emergency breakdown services such as electricity and water supply subject to restrictions.
The Minister also briefed the media on the situation at the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery.
The Minister said that there are sufficient stocks of crude oil to maintain the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery until the 24th.
"If the existing stock is managed, the refinery can probably be maintained until the next 28th and 29th," he said.
The ships carrying crude oil will arrive in the island on June 29, July 10 and July 14, the Minister said.
"It may take a break for three days, but we do not expect the refinery to ever shut down," he said.
Minister Kanchana Wijesekera also said more international oil companies will be invited to distribute fuel in the country.
Minister Wijesekera stated that a cabinet paper will be issued to provide opportunities for petroleum companies from petroleum producing countries to enter the Sri Lankan fuel sector.
"We hope to give the opportunity not only to Ceypetco or Lanka IOC, but also to other fuel companies," he said.
"This has been in Sri Lanka in history. It was a wrong decision we made for a single oil monopoly. Like the IOC, if the IOC wants to develop further, they will be given more opportunities. We have to make it a condition to bring fuel to the country under a loan scheme for at least a year,” Minister Wijesekera said.