Sri Lanka eyeing LNG from Qatar to fuel power plants

Colombo, Nov 21 (IANS) Sri Lanka has voiced keenness on importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Qatar, the world’s biggest exporter of LNG, as part of the government policy to shift to clean energy.

“In our energy sector, LNG-generated power plants are going to be the next futuristic power generation option. In order to bridge the gap of our energy supplies, we want to move away from coal to LNG. There is a high priority being given to that,” Sri Lankan Minister of City Planning and Water Supply Rauff Hakeem said.

“We have already identified two 300MW LNG-generated power plants that we plan to rollout. We are now projecting our power requirements for the next 20 to 30 years. We need to quickly move on to some energy options, which have less impact on the environment and LNG is one of those options,” Hakeem told Gulf Times on the sidelines of an investment forum hosted by Doha Bank on Saturday.

Hakeem said the government is moving away from thermal power to LNG, adding that Sri Lanka’s coal-fired power plants “have created a lot of environmental issues” for the local community.

The Minister said energy would be among some of the sectors to be discussed during Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s planned state visit to Qatar in 2017 to boost trade ties.

Earlier, Sri Lankan Ambassador W.M. Karunadasa was quoted as saying by the Gulf Times that Sri Lanka’s current LNG needs are met through imports from Iran and Iraq, among other suppliers, but not Qatar.

He said the LNG from Qatar could be imported through the Port of Colombo, which he said, is Sri Lanka’s “largest and busiest” port.

“China is now developing a large hub in our port city, which is a main distribution point to adjacent countries. Even in the ancient times, the Port of Colombo was a central hub for trade and other economic activities with many countries,” the ambassador said.

Sri Lanka is also considering setting up LNG power plants in Galle and Hambantota, with the country’s long term generation plan to be revised.

The sharp fall in LNG prices in last one year has made it attractive for Sri Lanka to pursue gas based power generation.