From left: HIPG COO Tissa Wickramasinghe, CEO Ray Ren, Laugfs Holdings Chairman W.K.H. Wegapitiya and Laugfs Holdings Executive Director H.A. Ariyarathna
Laugfs Gas, a pioneer in Sri Lanka’s power and energy sector, is set to open its LPG storage complex established at the Hambantota port for commercial operations this November.
This will be the largest and most modern LPG-related infrastructure in the Indian Ocean rim area.
The company in a statement said it is currently working towards making Sri Lanka an energy hub and the Hambantota port would be its launch plan for this ambitious plan.
Laugfs has plans to bring LPG in larger vessels from international markets like the Gulf, US, Singapore, etc. to Hambantota.
“Once Laugfs terminal opens in November this year, we would be bringing close on 30 ships per month; 20 of them would be owned by us,” Laugfs Holdings Group Chairman W.K.H. Wegapitiya said.
He noted that the port’s two jetties dedicated for oil, gas and petroleum business, make it convenient for the company, especially since the port will provide it with a connection facility to unload vessels through a pipeline connecting to its facility — which is about 3km from the jetty.
This would help the company to transfer the LPG from ships direct to its facility, in large quantities i.e. 20,000 to 30,000 metric tonnes.
Mixing and blending will then be done to create different LPG products, according to market demand and these will then be exported from Hambantota to the Indian Ocean rim countries.
The Laugfs group’s potential customers are some of the fast-growing economies positioned in close proximity to the Hambantota port, like India, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Myanmar and East Coast of Africa.
Laugfs believes that it is well placed to become a big competitor to Singapore.
Commenting on the value addition CMPort, the key force behind the operator of the Hambantota port—Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG)—brings to the equation, Wegapitiya said, “The Hambantota port was underutilized and did not bring any value to the overall national equation. Therefore, a strategic partner was necessary to develop the port fast.”
This is not just for the logistics or shipping sector but also for the economic spillover, which will benefit the whole country. GDP will develop. There will be employment opportunities and wealth creation.”
Wegapitiya noted that the world is moving away from old-fashioned ideas and instead of nations wanting full control of their own enterprises they are leveraging what they have to attract the right partners, to create synergies that would help them to move forward.
HIPG is in the process of developing Hambantota as a multipurpose port, which will provide a variety of services such as handling containers, break bulk, RORO, passenger, oil, bulk terminal, gas and project cargo.
The port is slated to become one of a kind, as it will be the only port in the country designed to handle the full gamut of services in the maritime and logistics area.
HIPG CEO Ray Ren said that their first partnership with a local entrepreneur of Laugfs Gas calibre would be a major confidence boost for the Hambantota port enterprise.
“The synergies HIPG and Laugfs will bring will give the port the impetus to position itself not only as an energy hub but also as a major international player for shipping and logistics.
It will also open up a wealth of local job opportunities in different disciplines, which would be a boon to locals seeking employment and in the long term, the Sri Lankan economy.”
Laugfs believes that the port operator’s connection to an international brand name like CMPort is something the local industry can leverage on.
CMPort was recently named the global port operator by Lloyds of London, which coupled with its experience and know-how, would give more local companies the confidence to partner with HIPG.