Sri Lanka is facing a severe shortage of foreign exchange to finance even the most essential imports, including food, fuel and medicine, and is calling for international grants.
Wijesekera said the state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation could not say when new oil supplies would be available on the island. CPC has also closed its only refinery due to a lack of crude, he added.
The refinery began operations earlier this month, using 90,000 tonnes of Russian crude purchased through Dubai-based Coral Energy on a two-month credit condition.
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Wijesekera said he regretted that deliveries of “gasoline, diesel and crude oil shipments due at the beginning of this week and next week” would not be completed “on time for banking and logistical reasons”.
The remaining scarce supply in the country will be distributed through several pumping stations, he said.
Wijesekera added that public transport and electricity generation will take precedence, and urged motorists not to queue to buy fuel.
“I apologize for the delay and inconvenience,” the minister said as hundreds of thousands of motorists spent hours waiting for petrol and diesel across the impoverished country.
Last week, the government closed state non-essential educational institutions along with schools for two weeks to reduce commuters because of the energy crisis.
Several hospitals across the country reported a sharp drop in the number of medical staff present due to fuel shortages.
Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday warned parliament that the South Asian nation of 22 million people would continue to face difficulties for several more months and urged its citizens to use fuel sparingly.
“Our economy has faced total collapse,” Wickremesinghe said.
“We are now facing a much more dire situation beyond lack of fuel, gas, electricity and food.”
Unable to repay its $51 billion foreign debt, the government announced it was in default in April and was in talks with International Monetary Fund for a viable bailout.