Sri Lanka, hit by the worst economic crisis in its history, took delivery of Russian crude oil on Saturday to restart its sole refinery, the energy minister said.
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The state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) refinery was closed in March following a shortage of cash from Sri Lanka, which prevented the government from financing its imports, especially of crude.
Russian crude had been waiting for more than a month off the port of Colombo, the capital, as the country was unable to raise $75 million to pay for delivery, Energy Minister Kanchana said. Wijesekera.
Colombo is currently in talks with Moscow to arrange direct deliveries of crude, coal, diesel and gasoline, despite sanctions on Russian banks and diplomatic outcry over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
“I made an official request to the Russian ambassador for direct deliveries of Russian oil,” Mr. Wijesekera told reporters in Colombo.
“Crude alone will not meet our needs, we also need other refined (petroleum) products,” he added.
About 90,000 tons of Siberian light crude will supply the refinery in Sri Lanka, a cargo acquired on credit from a Dubai-based intermediary, Coral Energy.
Mr. Wijesekera specified that this refinery already had arrears of 735 million dollars towards its suppliers.
According to him, Siberian crude is not a perfect fit for the refinery, which is optimized for Iranian light crude, but no other supplier was willing to extend credit to the country.
European Union leaders are meeting on Monday to try to negotiate a new round of sanctions against Russia, including an oil embargo.
Russian oil is already subject to a US embargo.
In Sri Lanka, motorists form long lines in front of petrol stations, waiting for hours or even days to obtain small quantities of petrol and cooking gas.
Its population of 22 million also faces severe shortages of imported food and pharmaceuticals, record inflation and long daily power outages.
Anti-government protests escalated into riots earlier this month, leaving nine people dead and scores injured.
Protests outside President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's office in Colombo demanding his resignation over his economic mismanagement entered its 50th day on Saturday.