Sri Lankan envoy eyes LNG imports from Qatar

72016312240578184108381Sri Lanka is exploring the potential benefits of his country importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Qatar, The Gulf Times reported.

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Qatar, WM Karunadasa said Sri Lanka’s current LNG needs are met through imports from Iran and Iraq, among other suppliers, but not Qatar.

“I plan to propose this during Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s state visit to Qatar in the latter part of the year. My aim is to push for signing of more agreements, particularly in the energy sector,” Karunadasa told Gulf Times at the Sri Lankan embassy.

He said Sirisena’s proposed Qatar visit reciprocates HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s state visit to Sri Lanka in March 2015, where the Qatar government expressed willingness to support the gas and oil exploration activities in Sri Lanka.

Karunadasa also underscored the importance of importing LNG from Qatar, saying that the move will boost trade and economic ties between the two countries. He said it would be the first time for Sri Lanka to import LNG from Qatar.

“We have close ties with Qatar, which we could strengthen further if we could import LNG from the state. There would be many benefits considering the proximity of our countries. From our end, we can export fresh fruits and vegetables to Qatar,” he said.

“I am pushing for these initiatives because our trade has gone down. Compared to other countries, trade volume between Qatar and Sri Lanka last year is not that big,” the ambassador pointed out.
Karunadasa also noted that 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.

Meanwhile, President Maithripala Sirisena is expected to visit Qatar in the latter part of the year, according to ambassador WM Karunadasa.

The visit, Karunadasa said, will include talks on how to enhance bilateral relations “and promote the welfare of the people.”

In March last year, HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani held a round of official talks with Sirisena in Sri Lanka, which focused on enhancing bilateral co-operation in the economic fields. During the official talks, the Emir pledged to widen the investment opportunities in Sri Lanka for Qatari investors. (Colombo Gazette)