SL permits India, China to explore oil off Mannar gulf
Colombo, July 8: Sri Lanka has decided to permit India and China to explore oil along the north-western sea belt and the first phase of it is scheduled to begin in the gulf of Mannar in August 2007, media reports here said today.
According to the state-run Daily News, Petroleum Resources Development Minister A H M Fowzie has said that two of the six blocks earmarked for oil exploration in the north-western sea waters would be entrusted to India and China for oil exploration.
''The proposal received Cabinet approval this week. We will shortly call tenders for exploring the remaining four blocks. They will continue conducting seismic surveys to identify more oil deposits along the sea belt from Puttalam to Hambantota,'' the Minister has been quoted as saying, adding the bidding process would commence shortly.
The Petroleum Minister has said that a large number of countries engaged in the world oil trade ''including petroleum giants like Iran and Saudi Arabia had already been made aware of the opportunities in Sri Lanka.'' ''These countries have also extended technological assistance and expertise for local oil exploration. The management and overseeing of the oil exploration process will be vested in two companies fully owned by the Government,'' Minister Fowzie has been quoted as saying, adding that one of these companies would be entrusted with the task of supervising the oil drilling while the other company would be responsible for the venture's management.