The Indian Oil Company’s Sri Lanka operation today received flak for the fuel shortage in the island nation with motorists lining up in long queues at petrol stations. Petroleum authorities had turned away a Lanka IOC, Indian Oil’s subsidiary in Sri Lanka, shipment of gasoline last month saying it was contaminated. To make matters worse, a shipment meant for the state petroleum entity was also delayed. “Lanka IOC shipment with petrol was rejected on October 17. We cannot accept it. We have asked the ship to go back,” Petroleum Minister Arjuna Ranatunga told reporters. Ranatunga said that LIOC should have made arrangements for an alternative shipment which they had not done. The fuel shortage would last at least two more days, he said, adding the government was working to resolve the crisis. Another shipment is expected to arrive on Wednesday, he said.
“I apologise to consumers for this inconvenience, but we rejected the last shipment because we didn’t want to give substandard product to our motorists,” he said. LIOC has a market share of 20 per cent in the island nation since 2002. The state petroleum entity trade unionists also blamed the LIOC for the shortage. Supplies were affected across Sri Lanka and there were long queues of motorists at petrol stations in several areas.
“If they can cause such problems with just 20 per cent, you can imagine the situation if tanks in Trincomalee are given to them,” said Bandula Saman Kumara, a trade union leader. Trade unions have opposed Lanka’s proposed deal with India to handover the World War II oil storage tanks in Trincomalee under a joint Indo-Lanka venture. In August, trade unions in the petroleum sector led a crippling strike. They only returned to work after the military was deployed under an essential services order.