Sri Lanka plans oil and gas exploration licenses for 900 offshore blocks to foreign firms in a bid to explore energy resources and bring in vital investments to the crisis-hit island.
The new regulations were finalised by the government and set a framework for companies to sign an expression of interest for exploring offshore assets around the country. Previous attempts by Sri Lanka to start up oil production have mainly focused on the country’s northern coast but this time the government has mapped assets surrounding all sides of the island.
Director General of Sri Lanka’s Petroleum Development Authority has said exploration work could start as early as March and any success in the initial exercise will lead to production-sharing agreements for gas and oil. As per news reports ONGC Videsh Limited, the overseas arm of India’s state-run oil explorer, is a front runner to get multiple blocks off Sri Lanka’s north and north-west shoreline. India under the neighbourhood first policy has been assisting Sri Lanka through several of its key investment projects in various sectors including energy.
The current regime has been on a lookout to attract foreign investment as the President Ranil Wickremasinghe seeks to stabilise the economy amid the country’s worst economic crisis in seven decades. As an oil importer, the island nation faced acute shortage of petroleum products due to forex shortages.