Russia to explore for oil in Lanka

President at St. Petersburg economic forum
Moscow assures support; Beijing hits out at outside interference in SL affairs

Russia has agreed to start oil and gas exploration in the seas off Mannar and send a group of experts to Sri Lanka for discussions on this, the President’s office said.

This follows a discussion between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and officials of the Russian gas and oil company Gazprom in St. Petersburg last evening, where company Chairman Alexei Miller had agreed to set up an oil refinery in Sri Lanka, the President’s office said.

The Russian company also agreed to send a group of experts to find out the possibility of selling Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in Sri Lanka. Gazprom is the largest gas company in the world and it supplies gas to a number of countries including 30 European nations with an annual supply of 500 million cubic metres.

President Rajapaksa also met Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis on the sidelines of the 15th International Economic Forum, in St. Petersburg.

According to the President’s office, the Chinese President had told Mr. Rajapaksa that Beijing opposed external forces intervening in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka. President Rajapaksa had said he appreciated the support China had given over the years to develop the country socially and economically.
Russian President Medvedev had assured his country’s support ‘Whenever needed’, the President’s office said.

The assurance was given when the two Presidents met at Lenexpo Hall in Vasilevsky Island, St. Petersburg on Friday. President Rajapaksa thanked Russia for the assistance given to usher in a sustainable peace in Sri Lanka and its fullest cooperation to develop the country.

The two leaders also discussed ways and means of improving trade and investment between the two countries. On the development of investment opportunities, the Sri Lankan President invited Russian investors to look at Sri Lanka as a destination for investment in the region.

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