There is no risk of Bulgaria running out of fuel, Finance Minister Assen Vassilev said on December 5, responding to Lukoil’s announcement earlier in the day that it is considering selling its business in the country.
“I’m glad that they officially announced this,” Vassilev said.
“As you know, we had advance information that this process started already at the end of September – the beginning of October. Each company has the opportunity and the right to decide where to operate and what to do with its own assets.”
Vassilev said that from the point of view of the Bulgarian government, “we have to ensure through our representative who is in the company that it will continue to operate the refinery with a strategic investor if possible and that in fact the Bulgarian interest will be protected”.
In November, Bulgaria’s informal ruling majority agreed that the import of Russian oil to Bulgaria would be stopped “no earlier than March 1 2024 and no later than March 15 2024”.
Bulgaria’s sole oil refinery is the Lukoil Neftohim facility in the port city of Bourgas.
Lukoil said in its December 5 statement that “in view of the significant change in the operating conditions of the Lukoil Group companies in Bulgaria, the company has commenced work to review its strategy with respect to this asset. Various options will be analysed with the involvement of international consultants, including the sale of the business”.
It said that the revision of the strategy was “a consequence of the adoption by the Bulgarian state authorities of discriminatory laws and other unfair, biased political decisions towards the refinery, which have nothing to do either with the civilized regulation of a large business or with increasing the revenue part of the country’s budget”.
According to the statement, “the artificially fanned political storm around the enterprise of a large international commercial structure, which is not subject to sanctions by the European Union and the United States, and which fulfils all its obligations to the state and its workers, harms the business of Lukoil, the investment climate in Bulgaria, inexorably destroys the image of the Republic in the eyes of global business, negatively affects the revenues of the state budget”.
Lukoil said that it would inform the country’s authorities and the Lukoil Syndicate of Bulgarian Petrochemists about further company actions with respect to assets in Bulgaria.
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