COLOMBO – Sri Lanka has paid $35.3 million for a 40,000 tonne diesel shipment, an energy ministry official said on Wednesday, as the island nation struggles to procure fuel amid growing power cuts.
“The government has made the payment and the ship will start offloading fuel soon,” the official said, who declined to be named as he is not authorized to speak to media.
Sri Lanka’s reserves have fallen to $2.36 billion by the end of January, leaving the country scrambling to find the foreign exchange needed to make essential imports, including fuel.
Meanwhile, authorities in Sri Lanka are imposing rolling power cuts across the island nation as its deepening financial crisis leads to shortages of fuel and handicaps its power grid. Sri Lanka’s Public Utilities Commission said it will shut off the country’s grid for four and a half hours on Wednesday after two hours of power cut on Tuesday and Monday. Electricity will be switched off on a rotating basis between regions between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m., according to officials.
Commission’s chairman Janaka Ratnayake said the “shortage of fuel is causing this issue” while adding that “we are having a fuel crisis not an electricity crisis.”
The regulatory body said the state-owned Ceylon Electricity Board had requested permission for the cuts as fuel shortages had caused the loss of about 700 MW to the national grid. Over the last few weeks, Sri Lankans had experienced several sporadic power failures.
In the past few days, many Sri Lankans have been forced to wait in long queues in the capital of Colombo and its suburbs to obtain fuel for their motorbikes and vehicles. Some fuel stations remained closed as they have not received new supplies.