Thursday, 11 December 2003  
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Offshore oil exploration on way

by Rashomi Silva

Sri Lanka will launch another effort to strike oil early next year, Power and Energy Ministry sources said.

The Ministry has given the go-ahead to Australian and Norwegian investors for the exploration of oil off the Lankan coast, the sources said.

Two investors have already carried out extensive research in this regard.

A 'Road Show' to attract more investments for local petroleum resources will be held in Colombo next month. The show is chiefly designed to attract international financiers to invest in petroleum exploration in Sri Lanka, Deputy Minister of Power and Energy Sagala Ratnayake said.

The exhibition will showcase Sri Lanka's 'prospectivity' in petroleum resources exploration, he added.

The Road Show is a result of the encouraging studies and extensive research carried out by two leading international companies in Sri Lanka, Ministerial sources said.

A senior power sector official said the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) has entered an agreement with T.S.G. Norpak, a Norwegian company to carry out a geo-physical study in coastal areas on a cost recovery basis.

"The initial phase of studies conducted by Norpak has shown favourable signs of hydrocarbon deposits in the Western coastal belt. The geo-physical structure of the Gulf of Mannar is especially encouraging.

Satellite data have confirmed the results. They will carry out detailed studies here shortly as per the Petroleum Resources Act," the official added.

The Act which facilitates oil exploration in Sri Lanka was passed in Parliament this year. The Asian Development Bank has provided US$ 325,000 for New South Global Ltd, a major Australian firm for an initial survey in the North West and the North-East, the official added.

It is believed that there is a large oil deposit in the Sri Lankan coastal region in the Caurvey Basin, the official explained. This underwater basin extends upto the Arabian Sea. The waters belonging to India have already been successfully exploited.

He added that the 'prospectivity' of finding oil in Sri Lankan waters and in the off shore areas have increased significantly since the first studies conducted in the late 60s.

"This is solely because we have used advanced technologies in recent studies.

The survey conducted in 2001 using the 'seismic' method is very encouraging," he explained.


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