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News


Fowzie takes on BOI, CB over oil blocks

By Poornima Ravishan Wijemanne
Petroleum and Petroleum Resources Development Minister A.H.M. Fowzie last week accused the Board of Investment (BOI) and the Central Bank (CB) of interfering with the affairs of the Ministry office at the cabinet meeting, when the BOI and the CB opposed his plan to sell three blocks of oil deposits in Mannar for exploration.

Miniser Fowzie’s plan had been contrary to the recommendations of the Economic Council, consisting of representatives of the BOI and the CB, which had only endorsed the evaluation of tenders for block 1 for exploration.

Of the total five blocks of oil in Mannar, two have already been reserved for India and China – the offer is yet to be responded by both countries – and the government has called tenders to sell the remaining three. According to informed sources, there have been three, two and one bidder each for blocks 1, 2 and 3.

Finally, on the insistence of the President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, the cabinet had agreed to evaluate bids only for block 1.
Meanwhile, Minister Fowzie told The Nation, “Presently we are evaluating bids for one block and we are expecting to finalise on the best bid during the course of this month.”

Oil and Natural Gas Corporation of India (ONGC), Canada-based Niko Resources and British-based Cairn Energy are competing for the sale of the oil block that is presently being evaluated. The Minister also said that the sale of the rest of the blocks would follow after this sale.

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