Central & SE Asia / Australasia

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Summary | Profile

Country profile: Sri Lanka

Location: Southern Asia, island in the Indian Ocean, south of India
Climate: tropical monsoon; northeast monsoon (December to March); southwest monsoon (June to October)
Terrain: mostly low, flat to rolling plain; mountains in south-central interior
Size: 65610 sq. km total (Land area: 64740 sq. km  Water area: 870 sq.km)
Population: 21,128,773
Languages: Sinhala (official and national language) 74%, Tamil (national language) 18%, other 8% note: English is commonly used in government and is spoken competently by about 10% of the population
Government: republic
Capital city: Colombo
Legal system: a highly complex mixture of English common law, Roman-Dutch, Kandyan, and Jaffna Tamil law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Currency: Sri Lankan rupee (LKR)

Country profile

The South Asian region (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) is notable for its large and rapidly growing population (more than one-fifth of the world total). Despite rapid economic growth during the 1990s, the nations in the region have among the lowest per capita incomes in the world. India is by far the largest South Asian country in terms of population, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and land area, followed by Pakistan and Bangladesh. In 2005, India had an estimated growth rate in real GDP of 7.2 percent, while Pakistan and Bangladesh had estimated growth rates of 8.4 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively. India’s GDP is projected to grow 6.8 percent in 2006, with Pakistan’s growth at 6.4 percent and Bangladesh’s growth at 5.1 percent. South Asia is in a period of transition as it strives to implement effective economic, political, social, and legal structures to support sustained growth. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have arranged several billion dollars in assistance to the region. The IMF has prescribed such measures as cuts in subsidies (especially energy subsidies), deregulation, anti-poverty efforts, and increased privatization in the near future.

Economic and population growth in South Asia have resulted in rapid increases in energy consumption in recent years, well above rates seen in the OECD. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates of South Asia’s primary energy consumption showed an increase of 52 percent between 1993 and 2003 (EIA energy statistics include only “commercial” energy sources and not animal waste, wood, or other biomass, which accounts for more than half of South Asia’s total final energy consumption). In 2003, South Asia accounted for approximately 4.0 percent of world commercial energy consumption, up from 3.1 percent in 1993. Despite this growth in energy demand, however, South Asia continues to average among the lowest levels of per capita energy consumption in the world, but among the highest levels of energy consumption per unit of GDP. Discounting “non-commercial” sources of energy including animal waste, wood, and other biomass, South Asia's commercial energy mix in 2003 was 44 percent coal, 35 percent petroleum, 13 percent natural gas, 6 percent hydroelectricity, 1 percent nuclear and 0.3 percent “other.” There are significant variations within the region. Bangladesh’s energy mix, for example, is dominated by natural gas (67 percent in 2003), while India relies heavily on coal (52 percent in 2003).

Sri Lanka and the Maldives are overwhelmingly dependent on petroleum (84 percent and 100 percent, respectively); Pakistan is diversified among petroleum (38 percent), natural gas (41 percent), and hydroelectricity (14 percent). The Himalayan countries of Bhutan and Nepal have the highest shares of hydroelectric power in their energy consumption mix at 82 percent and 37 percent, respectively, in 2003. South Asian nations are faced with rapidly rising energy demand coupled with increasingly insufficient energy supplies. Most of South Asia is already grappling with energy shortfalls, typically in the form of recurrent, costly, and widespread electricity outages. Because of the economic and political ramifications arising from such shortfalls, improving the supply of energy, particularly the supply of electricity, is an important priority of national and local governments. The countries of South Asia are looking to diversify their traditional energy supplies, promote additional foreign investment for energy infrastructure development, improve energy efficiency, reform and privatize energy sectors, and promote and expand regional energy trade and investment. Another implication of rising energy demand in South Asia is its impact on the region’s level of carbon dioxide emissions. As of 2003, South Asia accounted for 4.7 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. With the demand for coal in India projected to increase rapidly in the coming years (from 431 million short tons (Mmst) in 2003 to 544 million short tons (Mmst) in 2010) and the recent introduction of coal into the fuel mix of other countries in the region, a significant increase in emissions in the future is expected.

The first Sinhalese arrived in Sri Lanka late in the 6th century B.C. probably from northern India. Buddhism was introduced in about the mid-third century B.C., and a great civilization developed at the cities of Anuradhapura (kingdom from circa 200 B.C. to circa A.D. 1000) and Polonnaruwa (from about 1070 to 1200). In the 14th century, a south Indian dynasty established a Tamil kingdom in northern Sri Lanka. The coastal areas of the island were controlled by the Portuguese in the 16th century and by the Dutch in the 17th century. The island was ceded to the British in 1796, became a crown colony in 1802, and was united under British rule by 1815. As Ceylon, it became independent in 1948; its name was changed to Sri Lanka in 1972. Tensions between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil separatists erupted into war in 1983. Tens of thousands have died in the ethnic conflict that continues to fester. After two decades of fighting, the government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) formalized a cease-fire in February 2002 with Norway brokering peace negotiations. Violence between the LTTE and government forces intensified in 2006 and the government regained control of the Eastern Province in 2007. In January 2008, the government officially withdrew from the ceasefire, and has begun engaging the LTTE in the northern portion of the country.

Energy production and consumption

Oil Gas
Consumption: 84,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)  
Exports: 691 bbl/day (2005 est.)  
Imports: 82,390 bbl/day (2005 est.)  
Major fields:

Sri Lanka - recent news

12 Jan 23
Sri Lanka finalises oil exploration rules, earmarks 900 offshore blocks
Sri Lanka is preparing to issue two-year oil and gas exploration licenses for as many as 900 offshore blocks for foreign firms to scout for energy resources and bring in vital investments to the crisis-hit country.
29 Aug 19
Sri Lanka: Total and Equinor sign joint study agreement offshore Sri Lanka
The Government of Sri Lanka has entered into an agreement with TOTAL E&P and Equinor as joint study partners to explore the hydrocarbon potential in the JS-5 and JS-6 blocks of the Lanka Basin in the eastern offshore region of Sri Lanka.
17 Jan 19
Sri Lanka offering Mannar Basin Block M2 for licensing
The Government of Sri Lanka is preparing for the competitive licensing of Exploration Block M2 in the Mannar Basin. The M2 Block, covering approx. 3,500 sq kms, has two gas discoveries, Dorado 91 H/1z and Barracuda 1G/1, and a number of undrilled prospects.
03 Sep 18
Sri Lanka: Schlumberger subsidiary acquiring seismic data offshore Sri Lanka
Research vessel BGP Pioneer is to commence seismic data acquisition offshore Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka's Petroleum Resources Development Ministry (PRDS) signed an agreement in May with Eastern Echo DMCC, a subsidiary of Schlumberger, to explore oil and gas resources.
06 May 18
Sri Lanka to sign deals with Total and Schlumberger for seismic study
Sri Lanka will sign agreements with French oil and gas major Total and a subsidiary of Schlumberger for a seismic study off its east coast to evaluate any prospective oil resources, a top official said on Friday.

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