Bulgaria’s Parliament votes for country’s refinery to switch in stages to non-Russian oil

Bulgaria’s Parliament voted on September 28 the second reading of legislative amendments that will require the country’s sole oil refinery, Lukoil Neftohim Burgas, to switch in stages over the course of several months to processing non-Russian oil.

The amendments to the Control over the Implementation of the Restrictive Measures in View of Russia’s Actions Destabilizing the Situation in Ukraine Act envisage that as of September 30 2024, the refinery will stop processing Russian oil altogether.

The second-reading version of the amendments is softer than that approved at first reading, which had provided that Lukoil Neftochim should make the transition within 30 days of the amendments being adopted.

Speaking to Parliament’s economic policy committee on September 27, Economy Minister Bogdan Bogdanov said the short deadline for switching to non-Russian oil would mean a significant risk of speculative increases of fuel prices, and fuel shortages.

Parliament’s vote ultimately means the end of the derogation granted by the European Commission to Bulgaria regarding the sanctions ban on the import of Russian crude oil, imposed because of Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

As finally approved, the amendments provide that the percentage of crude oil of Russian origin processed by Lukoil Neftohim in the seaside city should be no more than 80 per cent by the end of 2023, no more than 75 per cent by March 31 2024, no more than 50 per cent by June 30 2024 and no more than 25 per cent up to September 30 next year.

The amendments require Bulgaria’s Customs Agency to monitor the refinery’s compliance with the provisions.

If the refinery fails to comply, the government will place it and Lukoil’s other assets in Bulgaria under state control.

Should this happen, the government will nominate a special commercial manager, to be appointed by Parliament. If there is no Parliament, the Cabinet will make the appointment.

In addition to the restrictions on the import of Russian oil, a new protective fee for the import and transit transfer of natural gas originating in Russia was also voted, to the amount of 20 leva for one megawatt hour.

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