Sri Lanka begins work on $3.9B refinery near China-run port

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Work began Sunday on a $3.9 billion oil refinery to be funded by a Singapore-Oman joint venture next to a Chinese-run port in what will be Sri Lanka’s largest foreign investment ever.

The refinery and a tank farm will be built on 237 hectares (585 acres) of land lying about 235 kilometres (146 miles) south of Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, near the Hambantota port that is controlled by a Chinese firm. The refinery is expected to be up and running in 2023.

Chinese – OBOR Project
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), also known as the One Belt One Road (OBOR) (Chinese: 一带一路) or the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road (Chinese: 丝绸之路经济带和21世纪海上丝绸之路), is a development strategy adopted by the Chinese government.

The refinery will produce 200,000 barrels per day, mainly for export, though Sri Lankan companies could place orders for refined products and sell them to local consumers.

Interestingly, in 2017

Sri Lanka Rejects Chinese Refinery Proposal

12 October 2017, Week 40, Issue 664

The Sri Lankan government last week rejected a proposal by a Chinese consortium to build a 100,000 bpd refinery near the southern port of Hambantota, which is slated to be a strategic piece in China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative.

Nalin Bandara, Sri Lanka’s deputy minister of international trade, said last week that the refinery will be a joint venture between Singapore-based Silver Park International Private Ltd. and the Sultanate of Oman’s Ministry of Oil and Gas. He said Silver Park has a 70 per cent stake in the joint venture, while Oman controls 30 per cent.

Oman’s oil and gas minister, Mohammed bin Hamad Al Rumhi, together with the top officials from Silver Park attended Sunday’s launching ceremony, which was broadcast live on state television.

“We feel obliged and honoured to be invited to take part in the development of Sri Lanka,” Rumhi said.

Sri Lanka Gas Station

Sri Lankan officials say the project is the biggest foreign investment in the country’s history.

The investment comes as Sri Lanka struggles to repay $5.9 billion in foreign loans this year, of which 40 per cent must be serviced by the end of this month. The country used its reserves to repay a $1 billion sovereign bond loan in January.

Much of Sri Lanka’s foreign debt is from China, with loans obtained to build highways and other infrastructure projects, including some that have become white elephants, deepening the country’s debt burden.

Sri Lanka leased the $1.4 billion Chinese-built Hambantota port, located near the world’s busiest east-west shipping route, to a Chinese firm in 2017 for 99 years in a bid to recover from the heavy burden of repaying a loan received to build the facility.

The port is part of Beijing’s so-called string-of-pearls plan for a line of ports stretching from Chinese waters to the Persian Gulf.

China’s influence in Sri Lanka makes neighbouring India anxious because it considers the Indian Ocean region to be its strategic backyard. Sri Lanka’s government has been trying to balance both Asian giants. Sri Lankan officials have reiterated that the port’s security will be handled by the government in an attempt to allay fears that the port could be used by China as a military hub.

Sri Lanka expects a $7 billion rise in its foreign earnings once the refinery begins production.

Sri Lanka to build 100,000 bpd refinery with India’s IOC

India has been vying for major projects in Sri Lanka where China has secured multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects including a $1.4 billion high-end property development

Published at Sun, 24 Mar 2019 08:39:41 +0000

View of the structures used to process oil at Mexican state-owned petroleum company PEMEX refinery in Tula, Hidalgo state, Mexico on March 8, 2011. AFP PHOTO/OMAR TORRES (Photo credit should read OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images)

Sri Lanka begins work on $3.9B refinery near China-run port