Supplying Power 24/7 Not Possible

Udaya Prabhath Gammanpila

Providing uninterrupted electricity for 24 hours will cause foreign reserves to dry up fast and the country will face a total blackout if the Government is unable to get foreign exchange to import fuel by the end of February, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila warned yesterday (January 19).

Addressing a media briefing, Gammanpila said yesterday (January 19) the Ministry paid for a stock of diesel from a ship anchored in mid sea for nine days.

“The Minister of Power also worked hard to find the funds. As a result, I directed the CPC to deliver 10,000 MT of the 37,000 MT of diesel to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB). This will last eight days. In addition, we supply the CEB with 2,200 MT of fuel every day. Private Power plant Fujitsu will also deliver 700 MT of diesel per day to the private power plant, according to an agreement,” he added.

“We require US$ 400 million monthly for petroleum imports. We require

US$ 500 million each month for power generation. Our monthly export revenue is US$ 1 billion dollars. Only about US$ 750-800 million of that makes its way to the country. How do banks do this when they are expected to have US$ 500 million? On the one hand, the inflow of foreign exchange has diminished, while the cost of fuel has risen dramatically,” he said.

In addition, he stated that this is attributable to increased fuel usage as well as an increase in global fuel prices.

The Kelanitissa Power Station, which generates 300 MW of power, briefly ceased operations yesterday (January 19) due to the lack of fuel, causing power outages in several areas islandwide which lasted about one hour and 45 minutes.

A CEB representative said the decision was taken due to a paucity of fuel and there was no looming disruptions to the power supply.

According to CEB Spokesman Andrew Navamani, CPC has assured that the required fuel was supplied by yesterday (January 19) evening to begin power generation, adding that load shedding could take place and power outages could occur in different locations depending on demand.

One generator at the Kelanitissa power station, which contributes 150 MW of electricity to the national grid, was reported to have briefly shut down due to a lack of fuel earlier yesterday (January 19).

Meanwhile, the ECB Engineers Union on the same day (January 19) launched a work-to-rule campaign demanding the removal of current Acting General Manager Susantha Perera.

(Source: Ceylon Today – By Thameenah Razeek)