13 December, 2019

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Gassing Off: The Strange Allegations & Worrying Deals Of Champika Ranawaka

By Rajiva Wijesinha

Prof. Rajiva Wijesingha

Prof. Rajiva Wijesingha

It is now established that there was no truth in the claim in the President’s manifesto that ‘If a total of Rs. 7.3 billion is spent per kilometre on the construction of the Kadawata – Kerawalapitiya highway, the amount pilfered is Rs. 5.2 billion.’

I was wondering who had contributed that particular charge to the manifesto, and was told that it might have been Champika Ranawaka. This is possible, for he made several charges in those days, in particular in relation to his earlier portfolio of Power and Energy.

On January 3rd he claimed that ‘The Maithripala Administration will carry out an investigation into the failure by the present regime to collect a sum of US$7 billion which is owed to Sri Lanka by Cairn Energy’. This led a TV channel to inquire on January 11th ‘Sri Lanka’s oil exploration under Minister Champika: Will Cairn agreement be exposed?’

The reference was to supposed discoveries by this company with regard to an area in the Mannar Basin which it had received a license to explore for gas. It was claimed in 2011 that a deposit of two trillion cubic feet of natural gas (worth at least six trillion US Dollars), which is worth more than 10 years of our Budget requirement, was discovered by the company. The last government was in the process of making arrangements to bring technological support to commence production of the above gas resources.

Champika - pic Indika Handuwela: Sunday TimesNothing of the sort happened. Nor have we heard more of the National Oil Company to oversee oil/gas exploration that Champika announced on February 4th.Instead it was reported at the end of April that ‘Cairn India exits Sri Lanka oil exploration’ with nothing exposed and no $7 billion collected from them. And then in June it was reported that ‘bids have been received from three other companies – Tootal, Shall and Exxon-Mobile – for exploration’ in the Mannar area. The same news item said that Tootal, a French company, had been awarded the tender ‘for the exploration for oil and natural gas off the eastern coast of Sri Lanka’.

The three companies mentioned are all Western ones, which is no bad thing in itself. But one is reminded of what happened the last time Ranil Wickremesinghe was in government when the rights to explore the Mannar basis were given to a Norwegian company. The contract was signed in February 2002 and allowed TGS NOPEC ‘to sell the data collected by it to third parties too’. Four years later the Sri Lankan Government paid 8.5 million dollars to purchase the entire data.

It sounds strange that we should have had to pay so much (according to another source more, $10.5 billion) to a company that had collected data about our oil and gas, given that it had already sold the data to another company. I do not have the contract for the seismic study it undertook, but I do worry about Ranil Wickremesinghe being in a position to award such contracts.

A couple of months ago I thought Champika was able to stand up against him but clearly this is no longer the case. His current readiness to deal only with the West is worrying, as also what seems his joining the party himself with Cabinet papers that seem designed to spend more of the Sri Lankan people’s money than is necessary. The Ministry of Power and Energy recently proposed buying the 60MW Barge Mounted Power Plant currently in Colombo Port at a cost of Rs 640 million. The Barge is owned by Colombo Power (Pvt) Ltd, and has been in operation for the last 10 years, which would suggest it might not be fully functional now. Of course there was provision to take over the barge in the earlier agreement, but I presume that was also signed when he was the Minister in charge.

Instead of all these highly individualistic approaches to our oil and gas reserves, we should rather develop a coherent policy, looking at sensible examples from other countries. I should note that in this context Norway does have much to offer, because the Pension Fund it set up when it was realized it had massive reserves has done much to ensure that the people of the country benefit from its resources. It has also given the country enormous clout internationally, given the size of its investment portfolio.

I believe we should now urge the President that contracts of the sort Champika (and Ranil) are offering left, right and centre, while Parliament is in recess, are suspended until a duly elected government is in place. And we should also urge him to set in place monitoring mechanisms to ensure that the resources and the funds of the people are not pilfered.

To put the questions that have arisen in a nutshell

The new Contract with Tootal

  • Why was the tender with Tootal signed hurriedly during a general election?
  • What were the terms and conditions of the contract?
  • Was it on the basis of an open tender?
  • How many bidders were there, and who were they?
  • Who evaluated these bids?
  • What were the bidders’ names?
  • What was the bid price of Tootal Oil?
  • Is it similar to the contract the Ranil Wickremesinghe government signed in 2002 with the Norwegian Company TGS NOPEC for a seismic survey for the Western Coast of Sri Lanka, bearing in mind that GOSL had to pay approximately US$10 million to get back the Data from this survey?
  • Will Tootal be able to sell the data to others, as was the case with TGC NOPEC, and how much might they make on such sales?
  • What does the government stand to make from this contract?
  • Who are the local Agents for Total Oil?

The former Contract with Cairns

On 5 January 2015, just before the presidential election, the former Minister Champika Ranwaka had declared that the Cairns India had unlawfully made a profit of US$ 7 billion out of the discovery of gas in the Mannar Basin. He promised to the nation that the new government would take appropriate action to recover this colossal amount of money from Cairn.

The present Government came to power on January 8, 2015. But during the past 6 months Cairns India was allowed to pull out from the Mannar Basin exploration and the money, Minister Champika Ranawaka had promised to recover from Cairn India has not been received, nor even talked about.

Questions we should be asking:

  • Was the US$ 7 billion Minister Ranawaka spoke about unlawful profit, and it so what happened to it?
  • Why was Cairns India allowed to get away without returning this colossal amount of money, if Minister Ranawaka’s allegation was correct?
  • If the allegation was not correct, who benefited from the arrangement?
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Latest comments

  • 12
    0

    Rajiva,

    Are you mad to talk unnecessary things?
    First you should answer why you left Mahinda in 2015 presidential election and why you rejoined him now?
    Did you get new benefit from Mahinda that was denied to you in January 2015?
    Are you fit to be a parliamentarian considering your instability and inefficiency?

  • 7
    0

    this is the [Edited out] who said the following

    ” The third category
    concerned alleged sexual abuse of Tamil women detained
    in government camps mostly near Vavuniya starting
    in April and May 2009. This was reported by international
    media.92
    The response of government officials to these allegations
    was terse, crude and defensive. Replying to a question from
    a British journalist on 21 May 2009 about alleged sexual
    violence, Rajiva Wijesinha, then secretary to the disaster
    management and human rights ministry, had only the following
    to say: “There are a few blue-eyed children in that
    camp. So you know that some of the NGOs have had a jolly
    good time when they were up in Vavuniya. So when you go
    up, just have a look and try and identify them”.”

    That is why i have always maintained that the professionals in srilanka are scumbags and should not be taken seriously.Look at the former Cheap Justice when he was the attoney general going to the UN and saying that a reliable source has told him that Ekneligoda is living in paris,knowing jolly well that the poor fellow was tortured and killed.

    • 4
      0

      old codger

      “This nutty professor knows nothing about oil or gas production.”

      What else does he know? You should be able to tell us in two sentences.

  • 6
    0

    This nutty professor knows nothing about oil or gas production.

    “The new Contract with Tootal

    Why was the tender with Tootal signed hurriedly during a general election?
    What were the terms and conditions of the contract?”

    Tootal is a British textile manufacturer. TOTAL is a French oil company.Stick to your English lectures, Prof.You are not qualified for this.

    This business of oil in Mannar has been used by generations of politicians since the 1970’s.There may well be trillions of dollars worth of gas in Mannar, but when oil prices have fallen to record lows which company in it’s right mind would want to extract oil that would have to be sold at $200 a barrel to recover costs? The oil/gas is not on the surface, as in Saudi Arabia.We don’t have the money or technology to get at it under the floor of the Mannar Basin. When Cairn India signed their agreement, prices were rising. They assumed the trend would continue, but it reversed. So they pulled out, like good businessmen.
    I am no fan of Champika Ranawaka, either. This so-called engineer is the man who promised us petrol from recycled polythene. He even coerced the Moratuwa Uni. into building a pilot plant when any neophyte engineer knows that the process is simply not economical.

    • 1
      1

      It may well have been a typo.The correct name Total appears in the latter part odf the artical if you cared to read that far.

  • 2
    0

    Is it not shocking that Rajiva and Champika boasting eloquency or technical know-how are unable to spell out properly Cairn Energy, Cairn India, Cairn Lanka etc.
    Rajiva contorting the names of more famous Total or Shell beggars belief.

    Total deal was signed in a hurry in 2013 to win support in Geneva as Rajapaksa regime moved mountains to avoid any International Investigations. Total of France must have felt the need to reaffirm that hurried deal given there was a regime change and definitely on seeing Saliya Wickramasuria pushed in to indefinite remand.

    This informative article sheds a lot of light on Cairn Lanka. This article also points out that maritime facilities at Trincomalee are being secretly given away as mere appeasements.

    http://www.foilvedanta.org/articles/cairn-lanka-and-the-corporate-takeover-of-the-tamil-seas/

  • 8
    0

    Well, a candle burns brighter before it dies off. Bye BYE Rajiva. Please don’t bother writing. A prostitute in the Bangkok dungeon may have more credibility than you. Please join your Yo Yo mate Sarath Silva and fly a kite!

    • 1
      0

      Hey Rohan, you have forgotten another important man to that short list – DJ or Dayan Silva.

  • 1
    1

    I wonder if Pa.Cha.can remember when he uttered a truth last time! He makes it noticed when he makes big bold claims but quietly forgets them and it has become almost a habit now.

  • 1
    1

    I wonder if Pa.Cha.can remember when he uttered a truth last time! He makes it noticed when he makes big bold claims but quietly forgets them and it has become almost a habit now.
    Lately his name comes up with many a monetary misnomers.

  • 1
    0

    I wonder why prof has all three oil company names wrong:
    Tootal, Shall and Exxon-Mobile
    It is uncharacteristic of him and I wonder why,

    • 4
      0

      He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
      When he usually shoots off his mouth in Oxford- accented English we the hoi polloi are left non-plussed. But this time he has proved his incompetence.I doubt he could tell the difference between [Edited out]

    • 1
      0

      @Puzzled

      Do you honestly believe that Rajiva is sitting in front of a PC in the CT offices and creating webpages with his article in it ??

      OR

      Do you think it more likely that someone in the CT offices is transcribing his article into a webpage and has simply made a mistake or two in these names ??

  • 2
    0

    Better stick to teaching English. Your behavior of late is rather strange. More like a Bull in a China Shop or a[Edited out]. Attacking everyone in [Edited out] without having a clue.

    Except, of course, your mentor and godfather, Maha Raja Chackravarti. He seems to be in your mind the Holy of the Holies, God Incarnate and Saviour of the Nation.

  • 1
    0

    Professori, the cock-up on company names that has been identified by many could be due to you having to use a peon to take down diction and type your copy. It must be worth undertaking some proof reading in order to salvage some credibility in order for you to undertake some English tuition when your sucking-up fails to get you anywhere.

    Though you parrot the obvious questions, the truth is why wait until now to shout ‘fire’?. Are you, perhaps, trying to catch someone’s eye?

    Professori, you are out of depth when talking about the shenanigans of foreign energy companies in their Sri Lankan adventures. A little dicky-bird from the foreign contingent tells me that nabobs from these companies were laughing behind their hands at the naivety of our locals. But that is the price we pay for electing shit-poor politicians to fight our corner. What to do?

  • 0
    0

    gentlemen

    In your rush to find fault with Rajiva W, you have seen one occurrence of the name “tootal”, an obvious typo, and completely lost the thread of the aricle.

    Get a grip!

    Or do you all such Ranil-Champika True Believers that you think they can do no wrong ?

  • 0
    0

    “t sounds strange that we should have had to pay so much (according to another source more, $10.5 billion) to a company that had collected data about our oil and gas, given that it had already sold the data to another company”
    Very weak argument.If they can’t sell oil they’ll sell the data.
    This is what Bill Gates does to all of us.He charges me for Windows even though he’s already charged you. Immoral? Illegal?

    “The Ministry of Power and Energy recently proposed buying the 60MW Barge Mounted Power Plant currently in Colombo Port at a cost of Rs 640 million. The Barge is owned by Colombo Power (Pvt) Ltd, and has been in operation for the last 10 years, which would suggest it might not be fully functional now. Of course there was provision to take over the barge in the earlier agreement, but I presume that was also signed when he was the Minister in charge.”
    Champika was certainly not the Minister in 2005. Why cast silly innuendoes? Not that I am a great fan of his.

  • 0
    0

    Rajiwa,

    I can guarantee the best place for you would be a circus, and you know as who!

  • 0
    0

    Wijesinghe probably is trying to avoid being sued by these big oil companies by misspelling their names. This means his facts are wrong and he knows it. If sri lanka professors like him and peris are so ignorant God save lanka!

  • 0
    0

    UNP 125 UNPF 48 JVP 23 TNA 22 SF 3 OTHERS 4 TOTAL 225

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