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Jun 03, 2022 15:41 EEST
June 3 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria will be able to continue to import crude oil and petroleum products from Russia by sea until the end of 2024, in spite of an EU-wide ban on Russian oil imports which forms part of the newly-adopted sixth package of sanctions in response to the war in Ukraine, the EU Commission said on Friday.
The temporary exemption comes as a result of Bulgaria's "specific geographical exposure," the EU Commission said in a statement.
Croatia, for its part, will be able to receive imports of Russian vacuum gas oil, which it needs to operate its refinery, until the end of 2023.
"Member states who have a particular pipeline dependency on Russia can benefit from a temporary exemption and continue to receive crude oil delivered by pipeline, until the Council decides otherwise," the EU Commission said, adding that such member states will not be able to resell the imported products to third parties.
Hungary, Slovakia and Czechia were earlier reported to have requested this exemption.
Despite initial discord between member states, EU leaders managed to agree to cut imports of seaborne crude oil and petroleum products, which cover 90% of current EU oil imports from Russia.
"Sanctions are among the EU's most visible, direct and powerful responses to Russia's brutal and unprovoked attack on Ukraine, including systemic violence and atrocities against the civilian population. This package also imposes further sanctions against Belarus considering its involvement in this aggression," the EU executive body said.
Under the latest sanctions package, EU operators will be prohibited from insuring and financing the transport, in particular by sea routes, of oil and petroleum products to third countries after a transition period of six months, thus further checking Russia's ability to export them to the rest of the world.
Furthermore, the EU is imposing stricter financial sanctions, removing three more Russian lenders, including the largest - Sberbank, from the global SWIFT system.
The measures also comprise the widening of broadcasting suspensions to three more Russian state media outlets as well as expanding export restrictions to include chemicals, with the UK and South Korea adopting substantially equivalent restrictions.
According to the statement, in 2021 the EU imported 48 billion euro ($51.5 billion) worth of crude oil and 23 billion of refined oil products from Russia.
Earlier ths week, Bulgarian prime minister Kiril Petkov said that the negotiated derogation will be an opportunity for the country adapt its refinery to raw material different from Russian urals and avoid price increases based on changes in the mix.
Fuel retailer Lukoil Bulgaria and oil refinery Lukoil Neftochim Burgas, both units of Russia's Lukoil, operate in Bulgaria. The Neftochim refinery, located about 15 km from the city of Burgas on the Black Sea, is the largest oil-refining enterprise on the Balkan peninsula and a major supplier of fuels to Bulgaria's domestic market.
($ = 0.932 euro)
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