Sinopec now running bunkering at Hambantota. File Image / Pixabay / Ship & Bunker
Sri Lanka has approved a $20 billion investment proposal from Singapore-based Sugih Energy International, the former overseas trading arm of Indonesia's PT Sugih Energy Tbk, to build a mega-refinery in Hambantota.
"The Cabinet gave approval for a refinery and related products project by Sugih Energy International (SEI), Singapore at the Hambantota Port,” International Trade and Development Strategies Minister Malik Samarawickrama told local news outlet Daily FT, adding that the Board of Investment (BOI) has also approve the proposal.
The move marks the second refinery investment for the port this year. In March the country approved a $3.85 billion investment to build a 200,000 barrel-per-day refinery near Hambantota that was proposed by Oman's Ministry of Oil and Silver Park International Private Limited - also based in Singapore and controlled by Indian interests.
The final go-ahead for both projects are subject to the appropriate Environment Impact Assessments which will now be carried out concurrently.
The investment is the latest sign of an ongoing economic turnaround for the once struggling port project that has come since Chinese interests took control of the venture in 2017.
As one of the nodes on China's Belt and Road Initiative, it is also the latest sign that Sri Lanka is on its way to realizing some of its long held potential to feature more prominently on the world stage.
That includes aspirations of becoming a bunkering hub for the entire region, an ambition reiterated in April after Oil and gas giant Sinopec, also known as China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation, won the tenders to take control of bunkering projects at Hambantota.