Business Times

Sri Lanka’s oil exploration programme to undergo technical and structural changes

By Bandula Sirimanna

Sri Lanka’s oil exploration programme is to undergo technical and structural changes with the cabinet approval to make adjustments to the agreement signed with Cairn Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd on Phase I Drilling Programme for the Exploration Block SL 2007-01-001 in the northwestern Gulf of Mannar and the imminent resignation of Director General Dr. Neil de Silva of the Petroleum Resource Development Secretariat (PRDS) who was in charge of the project, a top government official said.

Dr. de Silva is now in Canada on a personal visit and he has taken two months leave prior to quitting, he revealed. The reason for his decision to resign was not known but the official said that it may be linked to demand for a high salary. The exploration drilling in the SL 2007-01-001 block off the coast of Sri Lanka is expected to commence in August 2011.

The cabinet of ministers approved a proposal submitted by the President Mahinda Rajapaksa to make the changes to the initial agreement signed with Cairn in 2008.The government says drilling is a most technical and risky aspect of a petroleum exploration programme and drilling locations and drill depths may need changes at short notice due to operational difficulties and emergencies during drilling.
According to the government a thorough interpretation of the seismic survey conducted by the company has revealed that changes in the drilling programme are necessary.

"Cairn Lanka has proposed a revised 3-well programme to the government as an alternative to the earlier wells demarcated in the Petroleum Resource Agreement," he said,. According to the Government announcement, the proposal recommended revising the committed drilling depth of each well to reflect the optimal programme based on the detailed technical evaluation of the 1,750 km2 3D seismic data acquired in 2010, whilst also continuing to meet the overall commitment.

Sri Lanka has identified and demarcated three blocks in the Cauvery Basin off the northeastern coast and one block off the coast of Hambantota in addition to the eight blocks in the Mannar basin.

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