Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Sunday visited the World War II-era oil storage facility in the strategically advantaged port district of Trincomalee in Sri Lanka’s east coast, which has been a key bilateral economic partnership link for decades.
The Trincomalee Harbour, one of the deepest natural harbours in the world, was developed by the British during the World War II.
Since 2003, the Lanka IOC, the Sri Lankan subsidiary of India’s oil major Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), has the leasing rights to 99 tanks at the facility for a period of 35 years for an annual payment of USD 100,000.
According to the Indian High Commission, the LIOC briefed Foreign Secretary Shringla about the developments undertaken at the tank farm and the possibilities for further strengthening India and Sri Lanka energy partnership to enhance Sri Lanka’s energy security .
The Indian mission also tweeted pictures of Shringla at the Trincomalee oil tank farm.
Foreign Secretary @harshvshringla was happy to be with LIOC for the launch of LIOC’s new product – ‘Servo Pride ALT 15W-40’ during the visit, it said in a tweet.
His visit to the site assumes significance as oil sector trade unions in Sri Lanka have demanded that tanks be brought under the control of the state fuel entity Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).
As per the agreement, the IOC was also given one-third share of the Sri Lankan government entity, Petroleum Storage Limited. However, the CPC trade unions had been pressing for the takeover of the tanks.
Initially, the CPC wanted to develop 25 of the tanks by investing USD 25-30 million.
The CPC maintains that it will allow them to strengthen their oil storage and distribution in the north and eastern provinces while allowing stock maintenance to suffice 2-3 months.
Shringla arrived in Sri Lanka on Saturday on a four-day visit during which he will meet the top leadership, including President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and review the bilateral ties between India and the island nation.