A high level delegation from Russian oil and natural gas giant Gazprom led by its Director General Gulev Valeriy this week met Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa at his office in order to discuss investment opportunities, especially in the oil exploration in the Mannar and Cauvery Basin, natural gas market as well as tourism in Sri Lanka.
Valeriy stated that Gazprom’s initial undertaking would be the opening up of its representative office in Sri Lanka in September to formulate a proposal containing Gazprom’s areas of cooperation, which would be presented to the Sri Lankan Government in October. He said that this fact finding mission had helped them to gather valuable information regarding the investment environment in Sri Lanka.
Gazprom, Russia’s largest company, produces about 600 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year. With 18 per cent of the world’s production, it is also the world’s largest gas producer. The company is engaged in natural gas exploration, processing, transport and marketing.
It operates Russia’s domestic gas pipeline network and delivers gas to countries across Central Asia and Europe. It also holds stakes in Russian financial institutions, a polypropylene plant and its own telecom network and produces 17 per cent of Russia’s electricity.
The Russian Government has boosted its stake in Gazprom to just over 50 per cent. Gazprom accounts for about 25 per cent of Russia’s tax revenues and 10 per cent of the country’s GDP.
Valeriy, elaborating on Gazprom’s other ventures, stated that although its core business lay in the oil and natural gas sector, the company possessed subsidiaries in many different industry sectors, including finance, media, aviation, agriculture and the hotel and tourism sector. In addition, it controls majority stakes in various enterprises in Russia, including the largest TV channel.
Gazprom’s leisure interests span 76 hotels including 17 five-star hotels in six countries.
The Minister of Economic Development while thanking the delegation for visiting Sri Lanka and for the keen interest shown in investing in Gazprom’s core field of oil and gas underlines the importance of large scale economic cooperation with Russia to strengthen the strong and long standing bilateral ties between the Russian Federation and Sri Lanka.
During the meeting, Minister Rajapaksa said that with the dawn of peace, there were three things the country needed the most – investment, trade and tourism. He further said that the country that Marco Polo once described as the best island of its size was once again open for business and leisure and invited more Russian tourists to Sri Lanka, while also calling on Russian enterprises to invest in Sri Lanka.
Describing Sri Lanka’s potential in tourism and investment, Minster Rajapaksa said that Sri Lanka was in the ideal location on the world map and the best destination and also at the best time of its post-independence era for investment and tourism.
Speaking further on efforts to develop Sri Lanka as a key tourist destination, the Minister brought to the attention of the delegation the areas for cooperation and investment in the field of tourism by highlighting the Kalpitiya Kuchchaveli and Passikudah tourism zones and invited Gazprom and its subsidiaries to look positively at investing in tourism sector.
The Minister also pointed out that Sri Lanka Tourism had identified Russia as a key market to attract tourists to Sri Lanka and that Gazprom’s presence in Sri Lanka would positively contribute to bring in an increasing number of Russian tourists to Sri Lanka in its journey to become the ‘Wonder of Asia’.
The Gazprom Director General showed keen interest in going through the tourism sector investment plans that were shown to him by the Minister and agreed to take positive steps in this regard.
The Russian Ambassador who also participated at the meeting stated that the resuming of Aeroflot flights to Sri Lanka in November this year was an indication of growing Russian tourism interest in Sri Lanka.
At the end of the fruitful meeting, the Minister thanked the Russian Ambassador for the positive contribution he had made to date to bring Sri Lanka-Russian cooperation to new heights. Minister of Petroleum Industries Susil Premajayanth and officials of the Ministry of Economic Development, Presidential Secretariat and Ministry of External Affairs were also present at the meeting.