Cardinal and Elle Gunawansa Thera file FR against Yugadanavi deal 

  • Seek revocation of 40% govt. shares sale, LNG procurement from New Fortress Energy 

BY Pamodi Waravita

Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and Ven. Elle Gunawansa Thera yesterday (18) filed a fundamental rights (FR) petition at the Supreme Court (SC), requesting that the sale of the 40% of shares held by the Government of Sri Lanka at the Yugadanavi liquefied natural gas (LNG) Power Plant to the US-based New Fortress Energy Inc. company, be revoked.

New Fortress Energy Inc. said that it has signed a framework agreement with the Government of Sri Lanka to construct a new offshore LNG receiving, storage, and regasification terminal, primarily located in the Kerawalapitiya power complex, to supply gas to Sri Lanka’s power plants. Thus, New Fortress Energy Inc. added that it has agreed to supply natural gas to the existing 300 megawatts (MW) Yugadanavi Power Plant and is negotiating the purchase of the Government’s 40% stake in the Yugadanavi Power Plant.

The petition by the clergy has further requested that any decision or agreement authorising the procurement of LNG from New Fortress Energy Inc. be revoked and to issue an interim order to submit all documents, including the cabinet memorandum and decisions, regarding the sale of 40% of the shares at Yugadanavi, to the court.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Cabinet of Ministers, the majority (60% of shares) owner of the Yugadanavi Power Plant – West Coast Power Ltd. (WCP), New Fortress Energy Inc., the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), and Treasury and Finance Ministry Secretary S.R. Attygalle are among the respondents named in the petition.

The Sunday Morning reported that objections to the deal were raised by three Cabinet Ministers who had stated that the deal would monopolise the LNG supply. The Sunday Morning further reported that the Treasury is due to earn approximately $ 300 million as a result of this transaction.

Although the leaders of 11 pro-Government parties have requested a meeting with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to discuss the renegotiation of the sale agreement, media reports yesterday (18) showed that the President has rejected this request. 

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP)-led National People’s Power (NPP) Leader and Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake has demanded that the Government explain why New Fortress Energy Inc. was given the Treasury’s 40% stake in the Yugadanavi Power Plant in Kerawalapitiya outside of the open tender process that was called by the Government in February of this year.

He has also claimed that the agreement with New Fortress Energy Inc. was signed past midnight on the morning of 17 September.

Allegations levelled against the deal claim that the long-term loss to Sri Lanka through the deal is around $ 6 billion and that there is a threat to the country’s energy security.