The Omani government has given its consent to invest 30% in the proposed US$ 3.85 billion (Rs. 687 billion) Mirijjawila Oil Refinery Project (MORP) in Hambantota to a high powered ministerial delegation from Sri Lanka led by Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickreme.
The ministerial delegation that also included Highways Minister Kabir Hashim and Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen toured Oman last week and returned home on Tuesday after a successful discussion with the top management of the state-owned Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries Company’s (ORPIC), Minister Samarawickreme said yesterday.
“We had a successful discussion with the authorities of the ORPIC. They agreed to invest 30% in the MORP while the Silver Park International Private Ltd. in Singapore pumping the remaining 70% of the total cost of US$ 3.85 billion,” Minister Samarawickreme told the Daily Mirror.
Minister Samarawickreme added that a joint task force or a joint commission representing Oman and Sri Lankan officials and experts will be appointed to finalize the investment and construction of the MORP under the supervision of the Board of Investments (BoI) of Sri Lanka.
The preliminary work like ground clearing and demarcation of the land has already been started after the foundation stone was laid on March 24 by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to one of the biggest oil refineries in South Asia and dubbed the biggest investment project in Sri Lanka, he said.
“We expect to start construction before the end of this year after the Environment Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) is released and I hope we would be in a position to commission the oil refinery before 2022,” Minister Samarawickreme said.
The 585-acre refinery will have a refining capacity of 200,000 BPD (Barrels Per Day) which is ten times the capacity of the CPC-owned Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery, the country's only other refinery built in 1969 by Iran.
The entire output of the refinery will be exported, generating an estimated annual revenue of US$ 7 billion (Rs. 1.25 trillion). During the talks with the Sri Lankan Ministerial delegation, Omani Commerce and Industry Minister Ali Bin Masoud Al Sunaid has proposed that an Oman-Sri Lanka Joint Commission could boost bilateral trade beyond current volumes. The total annual two-way trade between Oman and Sri Lanka averages around US $250 Million. Around 85% are imported from Oman, consisting of petroleum products, light oils, polymers, plastics and aluminium.
Among Sri Lanka’s key exports to Oman are desiccated coconut, tea, fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
The Lankan Ministerial delegation was also given a tour of the plastic manufacturing sub-zone of Oman's Sohar Free Port and Free Zone where Oman has invested US$ 27 billion, Minister Samarawickreme said. (Sandun A Jayasekera)