Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka says that commercial exploration for natural gasses in the Mannar Basin will commence in two years by 2018.
He said that natural gasses have already been discovered in oil wells in the Mannar Basin.
Addressing a public meeting, Ranawaka said that 20 areas within the territorial waters of Sri Lanka have been identified for exploring crude oil. The blocks are to be offered for excavation under an accepted and a competitive procedure, the Minister added.
He said the new government would not give away oil rich areas in Sri Lanka to various countries in an irregular manner like the previous regime.
Meanwhile, officials of Cairns India are to hold discussion with Sri Lankan authorities this week on commencing exploration work for natural gasses in the Mannar Basin.
Cairn Lanka, which made gas discoveries in two of the four exploration wells it was awarded, expects production from the country's offshore gas fields starting as early as 2016.