The Bulgarian government on Thursday approved an initiative to gradually stop importing Russian oil, allowing it to be phased out faster than planned. Bloomberg reports this.
Bulgaria and several other EU countries are exempt from the ban on Russian oil imports until the end of 2024.
However, the initiative of the Bulgarian government provides for limiting the use of Russian oil at the Lukoil oil refinery to 80% until the end of this year and completely abandoning it until October next year.
This move will force the local oil refinery Naftohim PJSC Lukoil to look for alternative raw materials.
“The issue of abandoning Russian oil for refineries is mainly a matter of logistics. In order to switch to non-Black Sea oil, it is necessary to significantly increase the actual storage capacity – perhaps doubling – so that the refinery can operate for 20, 30 days without tankers,” the Minister of Finance said Asen Vasilev.
Bulgaria may have to look to alternatives in the Middle East or North Africa to replace Russian oil at Lukoil’s refinery, which accounts for most of the country’s diesel and gasoline supplies.
The government’s decision complements Bulgaria’s efforts to diversify its energy supply after years of relying almost entirely on Russia to supply natural gas, oil and fuel for its Soviet-style nuclear power plant.
Let us recall that in July the Bulgarian parliament decided to terminate the concession of the Rosenets oil port to the Russian oil giant Lukoil. On September 5, the port came under the control of a state-owned enterprise.
The Rosenets terminal, designed for receiving, storing and transporting petrochemical raw materials, was taken into concession by Lukoil in 2011. Bulgaria’s provisional government last year decided to extend the concession for 24 years.