Petroleum Minister Ranatunge has observed that petrol is used by the common people. If something bad happens I should be responsible for that. There was no huge effect on rich people. Everyone is looking for inspections. But I need to solve this issue soon. As the Minister, I never allowed any unpleasant thing to happen to the public.
He was addressing the media at his ministry on the fuel crisis. He said: “LIOC ordered a vessel with petrol on 17 October which had been rejected after two inspections. We can’t accept it without data. Therefore we asked them to move the rejected vessel. I regret to say that the above vessel is still expecting to unload the petrol stock in Sri Lanka and is waiting in the sea off Trincomalee.
Generally, LIOC should give an optional vessel when one of their petrol stocks is rejected. They promised us that they would unload a petrol stock around 31 October or 1 November, which they have rejected to do so, after that. The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation has ordered a vessel with petrol stocks to arrive around 2 or 3 November. But it will arrive here after being delayed for six days. There has never been a delay by a petrol vessel in our history yet.
The Sapugaskanda refinery was stopped due to a power cut on 31 October and was closed down for three days. Even we could not produce daily usage of 550 MT. In the meantime, LIOC requested us to have 16,000 MT of petrol and it would arrive here within four days. Later on we found that we had to buy a substandard diesel stock owned by LIOC by agreeing to buy their petrol stock. Therefore we refused to buy it.
As a Minister and citizen of this country, there was political influence to let the above vessel into this country. When I informed the President and Prime Minister of this, they informed me to do the correct thing.
If I would have allowed the vessel into the country there would have been a larger crisis than this. As the Minister, I apologise to the public for the inconvenience caused. Earlier, there were some issues due to the substandard oil. As the chief of this institution, I shoulder the entire responsibility and proceed with this, without considering outside influence.
There was a SMS campaign stating that a petrol strike was going on. There was a text received by our parliamentary group. This was not a huge issue earlier. But now this became worse and people are annoyed. They are selling oil bottles outside petrol sheds. We will be able to recover from this issue on 9 November after receiving the vessel on 8 November. We are issuing oil at CPC sheds.
There was no shortage of diesel. We have diesel for two or three weeks. LIOC even stopped issuing diesel. We informed those sheds to issue diesel. We are taking steps against the sheds that have stopped issuing diesel. We expect to solve this issue after speaking with the Secretary, Chairman and directors.
Everyone is looking for inspections. But I need to solve this issue soon. There was a union strike earlier. Even that time I wanted to solve the issue without inconveniencing the public. As the Minister, I never allowed any unpleasant thing to happen to the public.
Petrol is used by the common people. If something bad happens I should be responsible for that. There was no huge effect on rich people.
There are some people who have hidden objectives. We should even look into the SMS campaign. I will ask the President and Prime Minister to launch an inquiry into this SMS campaign. We will create a procedure to reject substandard oil. I will never allow anything bad to happen to this country. We will be able to solve this issue on 9 November. “