Saudi Funds

October 03 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is in talks with Saudi Arabia to secure over 500 million dollars to expand the island’s oil refining capacity, with the state oil company hoping to fast track the project. “We are currently carrying out a feasibility study for the project and are also in talks with the Saudi Arabia fund for 550 million dollars to double capacity at the Sapugaskanda refinery,” A H M Fowzie, petroleum minister told journalists on Tuesday.

Sri Lanka first approached Saudi Arabia for funding in April this year.

“The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation is a challenging institution. We have to look at ways in which we can reduce expenses and increase income,” Asantha de Mel, new chairman of Ceypetco said.

De Mel, an ex-cricketer, is believed to have close links with President Mahinda Rajapakse, replaced Jaliya Medegama who resigned last weekend citing personal reasons.

“We will have to look at expanding capacity at our refinery because it is cheaper to buy fuel and refine it here, than import refined products and also look at the marketing of our products,” de Mel said.

A net oil importer, Sri Lanka consumes around 3.6 million metric tones each year, of which around 2.0 millio