Serendipity

May 09, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is to start searching for oil onshore after the accidental discovery of gas seeping from the ground, government officials said. Petroleum minister A H M Fowzie said Friday the government has received technical support from Egypt to start the initial exploration work.

The accidental discovery of signs of gas were near the Munneswaram Kovil, a famous Hindu temple, in the northwestern Chilaw area, adjacent to the waters of the Mannar Basin, where offshore exploration blocks have been offered.

“We have learned that there are signs of petroleum reserves in the onshore areas in Chilaw,” Fowzie told a news conference.

“We have asked for and received assistance from Egypt after my talks there in April to do the initial surveys.”

Egypt has sent three technical experts from the Egyptian oil ministry who visited the Chilaw area and studied data on previous oil exploration work.

They are to submit a report on how to proceed with the onshore exploration work in the next two or three weeks, Fowzie said.

One of the visiting experts, Hany Nassar, deputy chief executive office for agreement exploration of the Egypt