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By Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal
COLOMBO, June 26 Sri Lanka's sole refinery has
been temporarily closed due to a damaged buoy at its unloading
facility and the island nation is considering ship-to-ship
transfer to ensure continued crude supply for refinery
operations, the oil minister said on Thursday.
The decades-old 50,000 barrels-per-day oil (bpd)
Sapugaskanda refinery near Colombo has faced temporary closure
several times due to repairs, maintenance, and not receiving
crude on time.
"We've stopped unloading crude since May 25 due to a burst
in a hose of the buoy and the refinery has halted operations
since June 22," Oil Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa told
reporters in Colombo.
"The refinery will be closed at least for another week.
Until the repair is done (on the buoy), we will carry out our
usual annual maintenance services during this period."
Yapa said two oil tankers - one partially unloaded and
another fully unloaded - are anchored near the main port.
A Petroleum Ministry official said another crude parcel is
expected on June 29.
"We are considering alternative arrangements, using
ship-to-ship transfer to bring down the crude. We are trying to
transfer the crude into smaller ships to bring to the nearest
jetty at the port," Yapa said.
Officials said foreign technical experts are on the repair
Susantha Silva, managing director of the state-run Ceylon
Petroleum Corporation (CPC) told Reuters that the repair done on
Wednesday was not successful.
"But the ordinary public should not panic because we have
enough refined products in stock," Silva told Reuters.
The refinery faced temporary closure in May last year due to
a delay in crude shipments and in November after the government
canceled two shipments.
Sri Lanka may have to order additional refined products if
it fails to secure required crude.
(Writing by Shihar Aneez; editing by Jason Neely)