Saliya Wickramasuriya, the island's Director General of Petroleum Resources Development, said a recent tender by Cairn India for provision of equipment and services for its deepwater drilling campaign in the Gulf of Mannar offered many business opportunities.
"At least 30 percent of this can conceivably provided within Sri Lanka with the right partnerships," he said.
"Properly positioned Sri Lankan businesses can participate," Wickramasuriya told a forum on new business opportunities arising out of oil exploration in Sri Lanka held by the National Chamber of Commerce.
"We are talking tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions of dollars (worth of business)."
However, interested companies would have to do their own 'homework' and invest in acquiring the resources and skills that would make them eligible to take part and bid for contracts in the exploration and production progamme, Wickramasuriya said.
Preeni Withanage, Director Benefits of the Petroleum Resources Development Secretariat, said Cairn's exploration programme so far had yielded local sub contractor services worth an estimated 26 million US dollars in seismic and drilling operations.
It had also provided employment opportunities for about 160 Sri Lankans in Cairn's local office and among sub contractors.Petroleum resources agreements the PRDS signs with oil companies have provision to reserve a certain amount of work for local supply of goods, services and employment, Withanage said.
The PRAs give preference to the purchase and use of goods manufactured, produced or supplied in Sri Lanka, provided they are available on terms equal to or better than imported goods with respect to timing of delivery, quality, price and other terms.
They also provide for the employment of Sri Lankan sub-contractors having the required skills or expertise to the maximum extent possible, she said.