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Sep 25, 2023 14:04 EEST
September 25 (SeeNews) - Lukoil Neftochim Burgas, part of the European arm of Russia's Lukoil and operator of Bulgaria's sole oil refinery, said that a parliamentary initiative to terminate ahead of schedule an EU-approved exemption allowing the import of Russian crude threatens the operational stability of what is the largest oil refinery in the Balkans and creates risks for the fuel market in Bulgaria.
"We would like to emphasise that the suggested 30-day timeframe for transitioning to an alternative raw material source is unrealistic to execute. In such a scenario, we cannot assure the uninterrupted operation of our enterprise, a commitment we have maintained for the past 25 years. Given these conditions, it is likely that all fuel consumers will end up losing out," Lukoil Neftochim Burgas said in a press statement on Thursday.
These remarks were issued following the initial approval by the Bulgarian parliament of amendments to the national legislation aimed at implementing EU sanctions against Russia in response to the war in Ukraine. The amendments foresee an early opt-out from the derogation, which the European Commission granted to Bulgaria in June 2022 as part of the sixth package of sanctions adopted by the 27-member bloc against Russia.
Lukoil stressed that when granting the exemption that allows Bulgaria to import Russian crude until the end of 2024, the Commission recognised the logistical difficulties faced by Bulgarian ports in receiving oil shipments from alternative sources. This recognition took into consideration the potential adverse impact on Bulgaria's energy security and economy that could result from an abrupt halt in supplies.
The company has worked out a timely plan for a gradual transition to alternative supplies of crude oil in consultation with consecutive governments in power throughout the period of putting the plan together, Lukoil also said. It added that the plan guarantees a replacement of the sources of supply before the expiry of the derogation and fully complies with the applicable Bulgarian and European legislation.
Earlier in September, the Bulgarian government said it held talks with Lukoil on the timeframe of the transition to alternative sources of supply and received an affirmation of the commitment to switch to processing non-Russian crude in Bulgaria.
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