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The Reality of Oil Dream in Sri Lanka

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The Reality of Oil Dream in Sri Lanka
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Since oil crisis began in early 1970s due to Arab Israel war, Sri Lanka’s government had been interested in oil exploration as many scientists in the country expressed opinion that there may be potential oil deposits in Mannar Bay to be discovered. When Mrs. Sirimao Bandaranaike was holding power in early 1970s, the opportunities for oil exploration was given to a Russian government sponsored company and newspapers in the country created a dream in the minds of Sri Lankans that oil will be discovered in Sri Lanka’s land giving a rare opportunity to the country to enjoy the benefits of petro-dollars.

Still we can remember that Sinhala newspapers published headings that petroleum was discovered in Mannar area lands. There were some fabricated stories that crude oils put into dug holes for exploration purpose attempting to con the public on this matter. At least a decade after these incidents, people were on silent about oil exploration as it was a secret task.

The first experiments made by Russians did not realize the discovery of petroleum with commercially recoverable reserves. The enjoyment of petroleum benefits gradually became a pipe dream beyond the reality. The issue of oil exploration of the country was a topic of party politics because the nature of Sri Lanka’s party politics is to destroy any things put forward by the government without considering the merits of it. During the 70 decade, petroleum exploration was a significant point that UNP used to unpopular SLFP government ignoring the critical aspects of the effort. Later Mrs. Bandaranaike offered the opportunity to oil exploration to a French company, which attempted to discover oil in off shore Mannar Basin as the attempts in land was not successful as expected before.

There are many stories in regard to undiscovered mining resources in various countries with mining resources. If there is commercially recoverable oil deposits in any area, people say that there should be trustable signals that dark oily mud should emerge from the earth where commercially recoverable oil deposit exists. Same way any area suspects that gold deposits exist, a specific plant is growing in the area because that plant needs gold mineral in soil to be successfully grown. These stories are not mere fabrication but they are scientifically truth according to mineral scientists. However, such signals were not noticed by people in areas, where gold or oil are believed to be deposited except recent story about emerging fire from a hole in Chilaw – Munneswaram area that signal confirmed that possible natural gas deposits in that area. The experiments by Egyptian scientists disclosed that there may be gas deposits in Chilaw area but they are methane type toxic gas than natural gas, which could be used for domestic purposes.

The UNP government elected in 1977 also had interest in oil exploration despite political insults for oil exploration in early 1970s. Some Sri Lanka’s born scientists expressed opinion that there may be possibilities for commercial deposits of oil in land area from Mannar bay to Mulaitheivu through rice bowel. Due to this opinion, LTTE movement also was quite concerned that there territory will be subject to oil production and Prabhakaran also was mad on possible petro-dollars, which could be generated from Elaam land with a view to becoming quickly richer at a cost of any amount of human lives. Prabhakaran and his war lords destroyed human lives to secure Vanni lands with an expectation to become an Oil Sultan in Elaam in the future.


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