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Persian Present

April 16, 2008 (LBO) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will flag off a billion dollar oil refinery in Sri Lanka, as part of his state visit to the island later this month, officials said. . Sri Lanka's petroleum minister A H M Fowzie said President Ahmadinejad would lay the foundation stone for the refinery on April 28.

Iran has already completed a feasibility study which will boost the island's 50,000 barrels a day refinery by 100,000 barrels and allow state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) to get more high value fuels, CPC chairman Ashantha de Mel told LBO.

De Mel has been pushing for a 'hydro cracker' for the ageing refinery at CPC's petroleum complex in Sapugaskande near Colombo, which would allow him to reduce its low value furnace oil output and make more petrol and diesel or distillates.

The refinery will also have 'delayed coking' technology which will allow CPC to crack residual oil and cut its 40 percent output of cheap furnace oil to almost nothing, he said.

A refinery makes a profit on the difference between crude prices and that of the refined products known as the crack margin.

Depending on the time of the year and demand for refined products

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