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Sri Lanka shuts down power station as fuel runs out due to forex crisis

Power plants are shutting down in Sri Lanka (Photo: IANS)

Sri Lanka on Wednesday faced a severe crisis after it had to shut down the Kelanitissa Power Plant during the night due to the lack of diesel. The power plant generates 300 megawatts of electricity on a daily basis.

With a severe foreign exchange shortage that the country has been facing for the past many months, Sri Lanka has not been able to import oil. The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) could not supply diesel to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), due to which the entire country is facing a power cut of 1.5 hours, reports the Daily Mirror.

While the Kelanitissa Power Plant was shut down today, one of the generators of the Sapugaskanda Power Plant was shut down on Tuesday due to the lack of heavy furnace oil. Currently, only half of the plant is functioning after it received 900 metric tonnes of emergency furnace oil.

Media reports indicate that more turbines are likely to be shut down by Wednesday afternoon due to the fuel shortage. The power shortage can go up to 2.5 hours.

The government is also looking at prioritising diesel allocation between power plants and vehicles. Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila told reporters on Wednesday morning that priority would be given to diesel vehicles otherwise these will come to a complete standstill.

In November, the Sapugaskanda oil refinery had come to a halt for 50 days after Sri Lanka could not procure crude oil.

With the power crisis engulfing the entire country, Gammanpila said the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation will provide diesel for eight days from a ship anchored off Sri Lankan shores with 37,500 metric tonnes of fuel, reports the Economy Next website.

To stave off part of the crisis, the CEB is using stored water to generate electricity from hydropower plants, which can reduce water supplies for irrigation–thus raising the spectre of a food crisis as well.  

Daily Mirror says that the authorities will have to now make a daily load-shedding schedule under which limited over supply will be provided per day.

Sri Lanka usually gets a diesel ship once a week and a petrol ship every five days but the routine has been disrupted due to the forex shortage.