Sri Lanka has effectively run out of fuel, with only enough in storage to last one day, the UK’s Daily Mirror news outlet reported on Monday, citing sources at the state energy company Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).
According to the report, the country now has only 1.1 thousand tons of gasoline and 7.5 thousand tons of diesel left in storage.
“Last week, no fuel vessels sailed to Sri Lanka because Colombo failed to make the necessary payments for the cargo,” the sources told the publication. The country has also been blacklisted by foreign companies because it recently defaulted on its debts and is now required to provide international bank guarantees for new orders, the sources added.
Sri Lankan Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said on Sunday that the government is sending two ministers to Russia this week to negotiate further oil shipments following last month’s purchase of crude at a discount, which Moscow offered earlier this year to attract new buyers amid Western sanctions.
“Two ministers are going to Russia, and I will go to Qatar tomorrow to see if we can arrange concessionary terms,” Wijesekera told reporters, as cited by Al Jazeera. In May, Sri Lanka bought a 90,000-metric-ton shipment of Russian crude to restart its oil refinery.
Sri Lanka is experiencing its worst economic crisis since declaring independence over 70 years ago. It was initially caused by a downturn in tourism amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to a shortage of foreign currency. As a result, it does not have the money to pay for imports and is struggling simultaneously with fuel and food crises. Since the beginning of the year, diesel prices in the country have gone up nearly fourfold and petrol prices have almost tripled. The situation worsened in mid-April, when Sri Lanka defaulted on its $51 billion external debt, which made it unable to borrow foreign funds.
The lack of fuel supplies could result in a complete shutdown of public transport in the country this week and lead to power cuts. Colombo on Sunday extended a two-week closure of non-essential state institutions until further notice to save on fuel. Apologizing for the situation, Wijesekera said that residents will unlikely be able to get fuel for personal use in the coming days as authorities will ration the remaining barrels between public transport, power generation and medical services providers, RT reported.