Colombo is also in talks with Russia to obtain crude, coal, diesel and petrol as the country faces its worst economic meltdown since independence.

Around 90,000 tonnes of Siberian light crude will be sent to Sri Lanka's refinery.
Around 90,000 tonnes of Siberian light crude will be sent to Sri Lanka's refinery. (AFP)

Sri Lanka has taken delivery of Russian oil - which could soon be subject to a European embargo - to restart operations at the country's only refinery. 

The Russian crude delivery had been waiting offshore of the capital Colombo's port for over a month as the country was unable to raise $75 million to pay for it, Sri Lanka's Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said on Saturday.

Colombo is also in talks with Moscow to arrange direct supplies of crude, coal, diesel and petrol despite US-led sanctions on Russian banks and a diplomatic outcry over Russia's offensive against Ukraine.

"I have made an official request to the Russian ambassador for direct supplies of Russian oil", Wijesekera told reporters in Colombo.

"Crude alone will not fulfil our requirement, we need other refined (petroleum) products as well", he added.

Around 90,000 tonnes of Siberian light crude will be sent to Sri Lanka's refinery after the shipment was acquired on credit from Dubai-based intermediary Coral Energy.

READ MORE: Sri Lanka increases fuel prices as it battles economic crisis

Worst economic meltdown

The state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) refinery was shuttered in March in the wake of Sri Lanka's foreign exchange crunch, which left the government unable to finance crude imports.

Wijesekera said Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) was already in arrears of $735 million to suppliers and no one came forward to even bid for its oil tenders.

He added that the Siberian grade was not an ideal match for the refinery, which is optimised for Iranian light crude, but no other supplier was willing to extend credit.

Sri Lanka will nonetheless call for fresh supply tenders in two weeks before the stock of Siberian light runs out, Wijesekera said.

The Sapugaskanda refinery on Colombo's outskirts will resume work in about two days.

The island nation is suffering its worst economic meltdown since independence, with shortages of fuel and other vital goods making life miserable for its 22 million people.

Sri Lanka's economic crisis has seen long queues of motorists outside gas stations, waiting hours and sometimes even days for scant supplies of petrol and cooking gas.

READ MORE: Sri Lanka 'runs out of petrol', PM warns of difficult months ahead

Source: AFP