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Oman oil samples being tested at refinery

Sri Lanka, preparing for a breakdown ahead in Iranian crude oil supply, is testing samples of crude oil from Oman to assess its compatibility with processing at the aging Sapugaskande Refinery, officials said.

The country is racing against time to scale down imports from Iran before the June 28th deadline for the US imposed-sanctions takes effect. Although Oman Light is not the same as crude imported from Iran, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) is exploring the possibility of blending it for the oil refinery and thus samples are being tested, a senior official of the Ministry of Petroleum Industries said.

However with the refinery needing urgent repairs and expansion needs and not working to full capacity since last year, the blow from trade sanctions on Iran won't be bad as earlier felt. The refinery processing has fallen to just 30 % from 50% last year and more earlier, with the balance imported as refined oil (up to 70%). At one time Sri Lanka depended on 93% of raw crude from Iran.

The Omanian offer follows a recent agreement signed between a visiting delegation from the Oman Oil Co and the CPC. The official said the refinery could only process Iranian Light sweet crude and Saudi Arabian Light crude. Sri Lanka is still importing crude oil from Iran under a 6-month credit line but has to end the

supply by June 28.Saudi Arabia and Oman have come to Sri Lanka's rescue to supply the 30% crude needed, earlier supplied by Iran. Petroleum Industries Minister Susil Premajayntha said that additional vehicles on the roads in recent months has raised fuel demand.