Four oil companies, including two Indian firms and China's Sinopec Corp, have submitted bids to take over 100 petrol stations in Sri Lanka, the government's privatisation agency said yesterday.

India's Bharat Petroleum Corp, Hindustan Petro-leum Corp, Sri Lanka's East West Petro Products Ltd and Sinopec had submitted final bids, the Public Enterprise Reform Commission said in a statement on its Web site.

"The selection will be done within two weeks," Chandu Epitawala, an official at the agency, told Reuters.

The sale — which analysts expect to raise $40 million to $80 million — is set to proceed despite a row between president Chandrika Kumaratunga and prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe about the handling of peace talks with the Tamil Tiger rebels.

Malaysia's national-oil-firm Petronas and India's Reliance Industries Ltd pulled out of the race to buy the assets, the statement said.

In August, more than 10 companies expressed interest in the gas stations, including the Royal/Dutch Shell Group and a unit of Chevron Texaco.

The successful bidder will share storage and pipeline facilities with state-run Ceylon Petro-leum Corp, as well as Indian Oil Corp, which bought 100 petrol stations from the government for $75 million in a deal announced last year.

There are more than 1,000 petrol stations on the island.

Before the sale to Indian oil and the current sale, Ceypetco owned 362 stations.

Most of the other stations are owned by small private operators.

The new sale will be one of the island's largest asset sales this year.

Also on the block are a minority stake in Sri Lanka Telecom Ltd, and holdings in state-run bus companies, hotels and plantations.

These operations are in the 2004 state budget, but no proceedings have been set in motion.