Energy Minister has said that Sri Lanka has identified oil and gas deposits currently valued US 240 billion; could well tide over the issue related to foreign debt sustainability if we harnessed the full potential of these offshore oil and gas resources.
Minister is talking of something senior citizens knew from their school days in the 1960s, when Russians confirmed that oil deposits were found in the Mannar Basin both in land and offshore. In reality oil exploration is not like tapping toddy from a Palmyra tree, that in itself is not an easy task for one has to do lot of preparation before collecting the toddy.
Drilling for oil is an expensive task and we do not have the expertise; therefore need to collaborate with others and unless we take proper action at the very inception, we may end up with another Colombo Port City Development. Since today we don’t have the means to fund the exploration and all down stream activities; may end up letting others to build and operate the facilities.
Besides, when Russians did the tests in the sixties there were much oil and gas reserves, that was 70 years ago. Since then there has been lot oil & gas exploration done at Mannar basin by India and others. The net effect is both the crude oil and gas deposits not known to us should have by now depleted considerably.
As a person who has worked many years in the seventies from inception to finish on Brent oil and gas exploration facilities for Shell UK; can confirm to bring the residue crude oil and gas at lower pressure to surface would add to the cost. So for sure it is will not make us an oil rich nation.
Perhaps it could have happened if as a nation; concentrated on oil and gas expro activities in the sixties. Regrettably our elite rulers wasted country’s resources then on discriminating the minorities. That led us to the bloody cruel civil-war, that country could not afford. True the civil-war was brought to finish at a heavy cost; with discrimination continuing! As Lord Buddha said “No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again”; so let us hope as true Buddhist the Present will in future rule the country to encompass all.
In this scenario, anything is possible, provided we get our priorities right. It is left for the state to solve the problems of the minorities, before venturing into oil exploration! Then perhaps can still benefit from oil and gas exploration; to give us oil and gas for generations to come without having to import the same!