Jan 18, 2022

Will there be a power outage from today?

Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila said that fuel will no longer be supplied to  the CEB if dollars are not provided. The minister said that if the currently imported fuel is given to the Electricity Board, there will be a shortage of fuel for vehicles.


Today, the ministers in charge of the subject are in a tug-of-war over the power crisis and the fuel crisis.

What has really happened?

Was a decision taken not to supply fuel to the CEB without dollars?

”It is better to say we were compelled to take this decision rather than sayingwe have taken this decision. The reason being that we don’t have oil resourcesin our country and neither are there large stocks of imported fuel. Moreover, Idon’t have the dollars to import fuel and give the CEB. That is why I had tosay, even reluctantly, that if the dollars are given to me I will import thefuel and give them. Currently there are two ships carrying 76,000 metric tonsof diesel at sea. We have notified the CEB that if the dollars are given to us,we will give them the diesel. You tell me if there is a way to bring in fuelwithout dollars and I will do it. I am not the one entrusted with the task ofsupplying dollars to the country.” – Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila.  How much of dollars is required for fuel import?

Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila says it will cost $ 400 million a month to purchase fuel for Sri Lanka, and another $ 30 million if fuel needs to be supplied for power generation.  He noted that finding the dollars to meet the daily fuel requirement has become an arduous task.

What will happen tomorrow?

The 3000 metric tons of diesel supplied to the CEB yesterday will finish by tomorrow.
Accordingly, several power plants will seize to function due to lack of fuel and if so, they will have to go for another power cut.

“The fuel stock that was provided will finish by tomorrow at 5 p.m. Therefore, we will have to remove all the 300 MW thermal power plants in the Kelanitissa complex from the grid after 5 pm tomorrow. If the fuel crisis continues we will be forced to impose power cuts of around 1 ½ hours during the peak time from tomorrow. Now the Chairman is creating this issue in order to pave the way for the sale of 40% of Yugadhanavi and hand over the country’s LNG monopoly to New Fortress.” – CEB Engineer’s Association Secretary Dammika Wimalaratne.

The Minister of Energy says that the CEB did not ask him for fuel on time.

“We notified them last September that they should supply us with the foreign exchange if they require diesel or furnace oil. We are in a foreign exchange crisis but they had informed us that they would not need fuel until the end of January. On January 07th they told us that they needed furnace oil by the 22nd and we agreed to supply them. Then on the 11th they notify us that they need diesel by the 13th.” – Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila.

In this situation, if oil is given to generate electricity, will the country's transport sector collapse?

“If we give them the fuel  the countrywill come to a standstill. The electricity supply could be managed by imposingpower cuts. They can either supply power 24 hours or cut power 24 hours or evenimpose power cuts for several hours. But, for the transport sector, either youhave fuel or not. Hence, we are compelled to give priority to the transportsector.” _ Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila.  How much fuel do we need? Was the crisis intensified by the closure of the Sapugaskanda oil refinery?

The highest demand in Sri Lanka is for auto diesel which consumes about 5100 metric tons per day. The daily requirement of super diesel is 225 metric tons.
Sri Lanka's existing thermal power plants use fossil fuels, diesel and naphtha to generate electricity.
At present it consumes 1,500 metric tons of furnace oil and diesel per day to generate electricity, which varies from time to time due to the increase and decrease of hydropower and coal power generation.

The closure of the Sapugaskanda refinery following the dollar crisis had a severe effect on the country, as Sapugaskanda was able to supply 940 metric tons of naphtha and 450 metric tons of diesel per day.What is the situation at Norochcholai?

Another major cause of the power crisis is the shutdown of the Norochcholai third Generator. The capacity lost due to this is 300 megawatts. The CEB says that the repair work cannot be completed until the 22nd.

Is China still maintaining the Norochcholai Power Plant?

“It is our people who are maintaining it. Think that you have a Toyota vehicle. Sometimes they do business in this way where some things cannot be done without their cooperation. In some instances certain things such as passwords have been blocked by them. Then they come and start it. Now it is scheduled to be completed by the 24th.” - Saumya Kumarawadu, President of the Electricity Board Engineers Association Whenwill this crisis end?

“I foresee that the country will face a huge crisis by March. We need to beprepared for it. In fact, on eight occasions I informed the Cabinet regardingthe measures needed to be taken to curtail the use of fuel. We definitely needto go for med-term and long-term solutions.” – Energy Minister UdayaGammanpila.

 

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