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Last updated: 27 October, 2009 - Published 14:00 GMT
 
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Russia interested in 'Sri Lanka oil'
 
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (l) meets President Rajapaksa. Ambassador Udayanga Weeratunga and FM Bogollagama are also in the picture (photo: Sudath Silva)
Mr. Lavrov is the first Russian Foreign Minister to visit Sri Lanka since diplomatic relations were established in 1957

The Russian federation has expressed interest in oil exploration in Sri Lanka.

Visiting Russian Foreign Minister Servey V Lavrov expressed interest in oil exploration in the Mannar bay and the rehabilitation of the Sapugaskanda oil refinery, Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Mr. Lavrov, a former diplomat who has worked in Colombo and a Sinhala speaker, is the first Russian Foreign Minister to visit Sri Lanka since diplomatic relations were established in 1957.

First visit

He held discussions with the President Rajapaksa and his counterpart, Rohitha Bogollagama in Colombo during one-day visit.

Sri Lanka has already offered oil exploration opportunities to India and China, countries that supported Sri Lanka's military offensive to defeat Tamil Tigers.

 Russians are traditionally fond of Ceylon tea and as you know we are the world largest buyer of this famous product. We would also like to see more goods from Russia in your country, as well as to bring here in bigger way our experience in executing industrial and infrastructure projects
 
Minister Lavrov

Sri Lanka has expressed gratitude for the Russia's support during the conflict.

"Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said Sri Lanka was grateful for the cooperation and support given by Russia in the international forums and both countries held discussions on vital international issues," the ministry said.

Delivering a speech at the BMICH after the meetings, Minister Lavrov said Russia is interested in strengthening trade and cultural relations with the island nation.

"Russians are traditionally fond of Ceylon tea and as you know we are the world largest buyer of this famous product. We would also like to see more goods from Russia in your country, as well as to bring here in bigger way our experience in executing industrial and infrastructure projects," he said.

India and China

Sri Lanka has been conducting roadshows around the world, since 2008, to attract Oil companies to come and explore patrolium oil in the Indian Ocean.

Oil exploration
Sri Lanka has never had any oil or natural gas deposits in its soil

Petroleum Minister A.H.M. Fowzie earlier told BBC Sandeshaya that the government is assured that there are over one billion barrels of oil to be harvested from Sri Lanka's soil.

"We have obtained data from a Norwegian Company based in Australia assuring oil deposits of billion barrels. We are calling for tenders to explore it on three blocks," he said.

Government earlier announced Sri Lanka had eight exploration blocks in the Mannar basin, only three of which were up for tender - at the roadshows - while another two have already been assigned to China and India.

Sri Lanka has never had any oil or natural gas deposits in its soil prior to the present survey results. Earlier in the seventies oil exploration in the Mannar boosted hopes of a discovery.

 
 
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