CEB stuck for funds for fuel purchases - Minister | Daily News


CEB stuck for funds for fuel purchases - Minister

The Ceylon Electricity Board has failed to make payments to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation for oil procurements worth Rs. 80 billion. With droughts affecting hydro-electric output and the Electricity Board starved of funds to pay for its thermal power output, Power and Renewable Energy Minister Ravi Karunanayake faces an uphill task to ensure the country’s regular power supply.

“The Finance Ministry needs to disburse Rs. 80 Billion to Ceypetco to off-set these payments,” Power and Renewable Energy Minister, Ravi Karunanayake told the Daily News. “The Ministry has not dispensed funds for over a year and a half. The credit limit allocated to the CEB is 80 billion, we were at 79.6 billion when the limits came on.”

Minister Karunanayake was engaged in high level discussions between ministries when power cuts began to be sporadically imposed in many parts of Colombo from Monday night onwards.

“We have managed to speak to the CPC and have been given a grace period of two weeks, by which time the Finance Ministry needs to make part of these payments,” Karunanayake said.

Officials from the Petroleum Resources Development Ministry said a decision was reached to re-supply fuel to the CEB until payments could be made within the next two weeks.

“The relevant authorities have been advised to allow for the re-supply to prevent islandwide power outages,” an official said. “Thermal power plants consume more power and if fuel is not continuously supplied, the CEB will be forced to shut down some of these plants which will result in power interruptions.”

CEB obtains nearly 80 percent of the required electricity from thermal power plants. A short supply infers the withdrawal of 150 MW from the system which results in power cuts.

Officials, however, pointed out that the CEB had been aware of the situation and it could have been prevented if these payments had been made. Engineer Manu Jayawardena of the CPC Executive Officer's Union said that the CEB has sufficient buffer stocks of fuel to operate its thermal plants for the next two weeks even if the CPC halted fuel supply.

“As far as we know the CEB has sufficient stocks to operate their power stations for two weeks even if CPC cut short supply,” he said. “We think this may be a political issue and that the CEB is taking advantage of the situation.”

He added that officials had reached a decision where CEB would be given a few days grace period to make a commitment which would bring down the amount. “After which CPC would supply for the next few months until the credit limit is exceeded.”

Treasury Officials said the Treasury had failed to make payments for over a year.

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