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Cash-strapped Sri Lanka announces weekly fuel quotas

COLOMBO (AFP) – Crisis-hit Sri Lanka announced weekly fuel quotas for motorists yesterday, as an acute shortage worsened and longer queues formed outside the few pumping stations still operating.

Energy minister Kanchana Wijesekera said the state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation was struggling to finance oil imports, while consumption had shot up due to shortages of electricity and liquefied petroleum gas.

“We have no choice but to register consumers at filling stations and give them a guaranteed weekly quota until we are able to strengthen the financial situation,” the minister said.

“I hope to have this system in place by the first week of July.”

He did not say how much fuel motorists will be allowed to buy under the new system.

In mid-April, the government ordered all fuel stations not to pump more than four litres of petrol for a motorcycle, five for a three-wheeler and 19.5 litres of gasoline or diesel for cars and SUVs.

Under that system, many motorists would top up, drain fuel into cans and then return to the queue for more.

Queues at fuel stations have become longer, with hundreds of cars and thousands of motorcycles waiting in line, sometimes for days.

Sri Lanka received a shipment of Russian crude oil to be refined on the island, but the finished product was less than a tenth of the country’s daily requirement.

Around 90,000 tonnes of Siberian light crude was sent to the refinery after the shipment was acquired on credit from Dubai-based intermediary Coral Energy.

People queue to buy Liquefied Petroleum Gas cylinders following shortages of essentials across Sri Lanka. PHOTO: AFP