Overlooked

Feb 05, 2008 (LBO) – None of the world’s major petroleum companies has bid for the offshore exploration blocks offered by the Sri Lankan government in the Mannar Basin, despite initial interest, officials said. “We knew from the beginning that the opportunity in Sri Lanka in relative terms was small – considering that globally they have discovered larger fields.” They said the lack of interest from oil majors may have been because of more promising discoveries elsewhere, the comparatively small size of the Sri Lankan deposit and the risks involved.

“Generally, there are three factors investors would critically evaluate,” said Kishu Gomes, managing director of Caltex Lubricants Lanka, the Sri Lankan unit of the Chevron Texaco oil multinational, which also expressed initial interest.

“These are the size of the opportunity, the country’s situation, mainly security and the terms and conditions of oil exploration licenses.”

Government officials had said earlier that most of the world’s oil majors had expressed an interest in the offshore blocks on offer during roadshows in major oil centres.

But last week the government said only three firms, mainly regional players focusing on India and south A