The Ambassador, H.E. Godfrey Cooray
met the Minister of Petroleum and Energy of Norway, Hon. Ms. Tina Bru at the
Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy on 16th October 2020.
Assistant Director General, Ms. Jorunn Anne Salthella, and Assistant Director
General Mr. Jan Øivind Johansen of the Climate, Industry and Technology
Department of the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy attended the meeting.
Ambassador was accompanied the meeting by Second Secretary Mrs. Samanamli
Atalugama and Attaché, Mr. A.M.T. Subaraj.
Hon. Tina Bru and the senior officials
of the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy have warmly welcomed the Sri Lanka
Delegation headed by H.E. Godfrey Cooray, the Ambassador. Hon. Minister has
congratulated the Ambassador on his appointment as the Ambassador of Sri Lanka
to Norway, Finland and Iceland.
Ambassador H.E. Cooray thanked the
Norwegian Delegation for giving the opportunity and informed that he had a
preliminary discussion with the Minister of Power and Renewable Energy of Sri
Lanka, Hon. Udaya Gammanpila with regard to the matters to be discussed with
H.E. Cooray further has given a brief
description of the history of the oil exploration and Petroleum industry in
Norway. Norway’s petroleum era started more than 50 years ago, and a number of
the early fields are still producing. The first fields to be developed were in
the North Sea, and the industry has gradually expanded northwards into the
Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea.
At the end of the 1950s, very few
people believed that there were rich oil and gas deposits to be discovered on
the Norwegian continental shelf. The Geological Survey of Norway even wrote to the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1958 stating that the possibility of finding
coal, oil or sulphur on the continental shelf off the Norwegian coast could be
discounted. But the discovery of the Groningen gas field in the Netherlands in
1959 opened people’s eyes to the prospect that there could be hydrocarbons
under the North Sea.
In October 1962, Phillips Petroleum
sent an application to the Norwegian authorities requesting permission for
exploration activities in the North Sea. The company asked for a licence for
the parts of the North Sea that were in Norwegian territorial waters and that
were or might be designated as part of the Norwegian continental shelf, and
offered USD 160 000 per month. This was regarded as an attempt by the company
to obtain exclusive rights. The authorities decided that it was out of the
question to hand over the entire continental shelf to one company. If these
areas were to be opened for exploration, more companies would need to be
Further, H.E. Cooray highlighted that
Petroleum exploration in Sri Lanka began approximately 40 years ago in late
1960s. Refreshing the oil and gas
exploration work, 2D seismic surveys were conducted in Mannar basin by TGS
NOPEC, a Norwegian seismic contractor with a regional office in Perth,
Australia in 2001 and 2005.
Ambassador has also conveyed that the
first international licensing round was held in 2007 for three exploration
blocks (M1, M2 and M3) in 2007 and one exploration block was awarded to Cairn
Lanka Pvt Ltd, subsidiary of Cairn India in 2008.
For the first time, two natural gas
discoveries were made in two wells out of the three wells drilled in Block M2
by Cairn in 2011.
Ambassador stated that Sri Lanka will
become a country which produces natural gas during 2024- 2025, and it will
transform the country’s energy mix subjected to securing potential investors by
Sri Lanka’s Petroleum Resources
Development Secretariat (PRDS) with the assistance of regional experts has
estimated that the Mannar basin alone could have has the potential to generate
over two billion barrels of oil and over nine trillion cubic feet of natural
gas(9 TCF), which would be sufficient to fulfil a substantial portion of Sri
Lanka’s energy needs for the next 60 years.
PRDS was planning to call bids for the
next major licensing round, for exploration and development work in the
remaining blocks in Mannar and Cauvery basins after legislating the National
Policy on Natural Gas (NPNG) in 2019 with an aim to drill natural gas before
Sri Lanka’s government has called for
international competitive bids in 2019 for exploration and development
activities in Blocks M1, M2 and C1, in Mannar and Cauvery Basins including
appraisal and development of natural gas discoveries in Block M2.
Ambassador further revealed that the
Sri Lankan Government signed an agreement with two energy companies in Norway
and France at the Ministry of Petroleum Resources Development in 2019 to carry
out a two-year oil and gas exploration exercise in the Eastern seas.
H.E. Cooray said that Sri Lanka will
be an oil and natural gas producer by the year 2022 and noted that country has
already entered into a study contract signed in 2016 with the two companies to
explore the J5 and J6 blocks. Total has already surveyed 50,000 square
kilometres on the East Coast as part of a previous study and Equinor will have
a 30 per cent stake in the exploration as per the new agreement. He further
said that the studies carried out thus far and data gathered from a previous
seismic survey resulted in a positive outcome.