One of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s most ambitious strategies, during his Presidency, was to make Sri Lanka an energy hub in the region.
One of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s most ambitious strategies, during his Presidency, was to make Sri Lanka an energy hub in the region. It is all the more remarkable since the country has for long relied on hydropower for its energy requirements.
Speaking at the World Energy Forum in October 2012, then President Mahinda Rajapaksa said, “In 1995, Sri Lanka produced 95 percent of the grid electrical energy needs from conventional hydropower plants. However, with almost all hydropower generating capacities utilised and energy demand greatly expanding, the Government is now forced to look into alternatives to fossil fuels. The share of electricity generated through conventional hydropower has been reduced to 35 percent.”
It is in this backdrop that then President Rajapaksa announced his vision to develop Sri Lanka as an energy hub. One of the key platforms in transforming Sri Lanka into an energy hub is the exploration and production of petroleum and natural gas within the country. Another is the country’s emphasis on renewable energy.
Following this new emphasis on energy, seismic data was collected from the Mannar and Kaveri Basins and the southern sea. Of four exploration wells drilled in the seas off Mannar, hydrocarbons were discovered in two of them.
The country was also expected to greatly benefit from being part of the Maritime Silk Route where it would have been a storage point and supplied fuel for ships and airlines travelling along the busiest east-west shipping lane.