The ongoing probe on the import of contaminated fuel by the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) from the Singapore-based Emirates National Oil Company, is baring some startling details, the Sunday Times learns.
Independent inspectors at the port of loading had declared that the stock of oil purchased from Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC did not conform to CPC standards. Yet, the CPC’s Deputy Commercial Manager had directed that it be loaded.
When the oil cargo arrived in Colombo Port on June 16, a sample had been tested at the laboratory of the Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminal (CPSTL) Limited. Once again, it was found to be not in conformity with the Corporation’s standard specifications. For a second time, the Deputy Commercial Manager had ordered that the cargo be released to the filling stations on the grounds that it was a directive from Petroleum Industries Ministry Secretary Titus Jayawardena. The Secretary has been transferred to the Pensions Division in the Ministry of Public Administration.
The contaminated fuel deal is being probed by a committee headed by Power and Energy Ministry Secretary M.M.C. Ferdinando. The other members of the Committee are P. Samarakoon, Marketing Manager of the CPC and Piyasena Ekanayake, Project Manager for the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery.
More than two thousand vehicles developed engine and carburetor problems after they were run on the contaminated fuel. The Ministry has assured compensations but payments have not begun yet.
CPC trade unions are accusing both the Deputy Commercial Manager and the former Ministry Secretary of not following tender procedures.
According to the normal fuel procurement procedure, once offers are received by the CPC, they are submitted to the relevant Technical Evaluation Committee for scrutiny. Thereafter, this committee’s recommendation is submitted to a Special Standing Committee which decides on the selection of acceptable tender.
The successful tenderer is required to have the cargo examined by an independent inspector, acceptable to both the buyer and the seller. This is in accordance with the CPC tender rules and a Pre-Shipment Quality Certificate is given to the Corporation. It is only thereafter that approval is given to ship the cargo.
Fuel bowser owners not paid for months
Bowser owners who transport Ceylon Petroleum Corporation fuel to filling stations countrywide are demanding the immediate payment of about Rs. 450 million owed to them for the transport during the past three months.
CPC Bowser Owners Union spokesperson A.M.M. Adikari said Petroleum Minister Susil Premajayantha had promised to pay the arrears but officials had still not made any payments.
He said that 60% of fuel transport for the CPC was carried out by private bowsers and the delay in paying them had pushed them into serious financial difficulties. He said some bowser owners had decided to boycott the transport of CPC fuel if the arrears were not paid immediately.
Mr. Adikari said the union would consider continuing the transport of fuel if the CPC immediately pay at least the arrears of two months and the balance in installments.