The Sri Lankan government on Monday signed an agreement with Cairn India to explore and produce hydro-carbon and natural gas in the Mannar Basin in northern Sri Lanka.
According to the Petroleum Resources Agreement, Cairn Indian would start exploration activities in the Mannar Basin, which covers 3,400 square kilometre at depths between 200 to 1,800 m within 6 months.
Minister of Petroleum and Petroleum Resources A H M Fowzie and Chief Financial Officer of the Indian company Indrajith Banerjee signed the agreement on behalf of Sri Lanka and Cairn India in the presence of President Mahinda Rajapaksa at a function in the Temple Trees this morning.
The deal was signed amid mounting criticism against it from the Leftist JVP party, which is an ally of the government. In a letter addressed to Rajapaksa, the JVP said that the party had requested the formation of an all-party parliamentary committee to monitor the oil exploration process from its very inception of calling for tenders. “The reason we wanted a committee appointed was because this was going to be a significant juncture for our country and a broader consultative process with professionals in this field was required because as a nation, our knowledge and expertise in this field is limited,”' the JVP said.
The exploration spending schedule of the company in the next three years is expected to be USD 112 million, a government release said.