Sri Lanka’s lubricants market may soon loosen up. Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake has proposed that lubricants, as well as tiles, ceramics and sanitary wares, be stricken from the country’s so-called “negative list” of items that can be imported into the country.
“Presently the lubricant market is managed only by a few companies,” Karunanayake said. “Further I propose to remove lubricants from BOI (Board of Investment) negative list,” he added.
Companies like Colombo Dockyard had to go through a long administrative process to be able to import specialty lubricants required by ship owners who bring vessels for repair and servicing to Colombo, which makes it difficult for local companies to compete with countries like Singapore, which is an open port.
The lubricant market is regulated and governed under the provisions of the Petroleum Products (Special Provisions) Act No. 33 of 2002 and the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation Act No. 28 of 1961. The importation, exportation, blending, production, sale, supply and distribution of lubricants, including greases, require specific authorization from the Government.
The Government has appointed the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) as the shadow regulator for the lubricants market. As the shadow regulator, the PUCSL advises the Ministry of Petroleum Industries on policy and regulatory matters with respect to liberalization of the lubricants industry. When the lubricant market was further liberalized in 2006, PUCSL assisted and advised the Ministry of Petroleum Industries in formulating the policy framework and market entry criteria to ensure that only quality lubricants meeting internationally accepted standards are allowed into the market.
As of the end of last year, only 13 parties were authorized to import, export, sell, supply and distribute lubricants in Sri Lanka and only two were authorized to import, export, sell, supply, distribute and blend lubricants in Sri Lanka.
A total of 54,265 kiloliters of lubricants were sold in 2014, of which 72% were automotive lubricants. Industrial, marine lubricants and greases accounted for 18%, 5% and 5% market share, respectively.