Bulgaria Bans Russian Oil
Bulgarian lawmakers have approved a proposal to gradually cease the import of Russian crude oil.
This development was reported by Bloomberg.
Bulgaria, along with several other EU countries, has been exempted from the EU-wide ban on Russian oil imports until the end of 2024. However, members of the country's parliament voted to reduce the use of Russian oil at the Lukoil refinery to 80% by the end of this year and completely stop it by October next year.
The parliament's decision complements Bulgaria's efforts to diversify its energy supply after relying heavily on Russia for natural gas, oil, and fuel for its Soviet-era nuclear power plant for many years.
This move will compel the local Neftochim refinery of Lukoil, the largest in Southeastern Europe, to seek alternative sources of raw materials.
Shipments of Russian Urals crude oil through the Black Sea to Bulgaria have increased in recent weeks, exceeding 180,000 barrels per day, tripling the levels observed earlier this year. Alternatives include crude oil from Kazakhstan, shipped through the Russian port of Novorossiysk. However, a refinery in Romania owned by Kazakhstan, which halted Russian imports last year, is already accepting some of this supply.
"The issue of delivering Russian oil to the refinery is primarily a logistics issue," said Finance Minister Assen Vassilev. "To switch to non-Black Sea oil, the actual storage capacity needs to be significantly increased, perhaps doubled, so that the refinery can operate for 20-30 days potentially without the tanker's arrival."
As reported by The Gaze, the Bulgarian government recently transferred control of the state-owned oil terminal, Rosenets, previously operated by the Russian oil company Lukoil.
According to Bulgarian Transport Minister Georgi Gvozdeykov, Bulgaria does not have any compensatory obligations to the Russian company because the concession agreement was terminated due to sanctions imposed on Russia.
"The state has the capabilities, it has the experience; there will be no extraordinary situations; everything is within the law. According to the resolution's formulation, the state is not obliged to pay any compensation to the concessionaire. The concession was terminated due to force majeure circumstances related to restrictive measures against the Russian Federation," Gvozdeykov stated.
The minister also emphasized that Lukoil could pursue its rights elsewhere but not in Bulgaria, as the country adheres to European laws and restrictions.