By Pamodi Waravita
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Leader and National People’s Power (NPP) Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake yesterday (19) claimed that the Government of Sri Lanka had signed an agreement with US-based energy company New Fortress Energy Inc. past midnight on Friday (17), transferring the Treasury’s 40% stake in the Yugadanavi Power Station in Kerawalapitiya to the company.
“An agreement of national importance was signed at 12:06 past midnight. After that the foreigner who came for the signing went back to America on a flight at 2.00 a.m.,” he claimed at a media briefing held yesterday (19).
He went on to question if the Government is made up of “owls” to sign agreements in the “dead of the night”.
Dissanayake claimed that the Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa had earlier submitted a cabinet paper to grant the Treasury’s 40% stake at Kerawalapitiya to the US-based company.
“On September 6, the Cabinet of Ministers, which meets on Zoom these days, approved the cabinet paper presented by Rajapaksa. None of the Cabinet Ministers got the cabinet paper prior to that moment. We learnt that this was approved despite there being some opposition to it from within the Cabinet itself,” claimed Dissanayake.
The Sunday Morning reported that the objections were raised by three ministers who had stated that the deal would monopolise the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) supply and that the Treasury Department is due to earn approximately $ 300 million as a result of this transaction.
Dissanayake demanded that the Government explain why New Fortress Energy Inc. was given the Treasury’s stake in the Yugadanavi Power Station outside of the open tender process that was called by the Government in February of this year.
“A tender process is opened to promote transparency and to ensure, through a competitive process, that the most suitable bidder is awarded the development project. New Fortress Energy did not submit a tender. Is that a transparent process then?” questioned Dissanayake.
On 13 July, New Fortress Energy Inc. announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Lakdhanavi Limited to jointly develop a 350 MW gas-fired power plant in the Kerawalapitiya Power Complex located in Colombo, Sri Lanka. At the time, its CEO and Chairman Wes Edens said that the partnership is part of their efforts to accelerate Sri Lanka’s transition to cleaner and cheaper energy.
Prior to this statement, New Fortress said that it has signed a Framework Agreement with the Government of Sri Lanka to construct a new offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving, storage and regasification terminal to supply gas to Sri Lanka’s power plants, primarily located in the Kerawalapitiya Power Complex.
Thus, New Fortress added that it has agreed to supply natural gas to the existing 300 MW Yugadanavi Power Plant and is negotiating the purchase of the Government’s 40% stake in the Yugadanavi power plant.