After a number of false starts, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) on Wednesday said bunkering at the country's port of Hambantota, also known as Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port(MRMRP), will commence this Sunday, June 22, 2014.
The bunkering terminal and tank farm complex with be ceremonially inaugurated by PresidentMahinda Rajapaksa, and bunkers are scheduled to be supplied to a container ship arriving from Dubai to mark the occasion.
SLPA say the $95 million bunkering terminal has an initial capacity of 55,000 tonnes, and expects "to expand gradually parallel to the expansion of the port and its services" as part of a second phase of development, adding a further 100,000 tonnes of capacity.
The licence for bunkering at port was granted in July 2012, with the SPLA at the time hoping that bunkering would begin in October of that year.
But complications since then, including a need to resolve "clearance issues" at the port, delayed the start of operations until this weekend.
China has provided the bulk of the $1.5 billion to build Hambantota, which itself was opened in 2010, with the bunkering operations the only part of the port not open to external investment.
Ship & Bunker understands that, at least initially, private sector players will not be able to operate at Hambantota, with all bunkering to be handled by the SLPA.