Bulgarian Coalition Drafts Bill to End Russian Oil Exemption Amid Lukoil Neftochim Impact

The power-sharing coalition comprising GERB-SDS and WCC-DB, supported by DPS, has agreed to terminate Bulgaria's exemption from the EU's ban on exporting derivatives from Russian oil by January 1, 2024, and end the exemption for Russian oil imports by March 1, 2024, as shared by Jordan Tzonev, Chair of the parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee.

A forthcoming bill from the coalition, expected Thursday, will establish these deadlines. The exemption notably favors the Russian-controlled Lukoil Neftochim Burgas refinery.

Tzonev mentioned the bill will instruct the National Customs Agency to audit Neftochim's depots by December 31, 2023, identifying oil derivatives to prevent depot congestion.

At a recent extraordinary Energy Committee meeting, two bills proposing different termination dates for the Russian oil exemption were rejected: January 1, 2024, suggested by GERB's Boyko Borissov, Delyan Dobrev (GERB-SDS), and Tzonev, and March 1 to March 15, 2024, by WCC-DB.

The European Commission granted Bulgaria an exemption from the EU embargo on Russian oil imports in 2022 due to the country's geographical exposure. Initially set to end on October 1, 2024, the exemption would now conclude earlier, on March 1, 2024.

MPs' comments:

Venko Sabrutev (WCC-DB): Commended the joint bill submission, believing it serves societal and consumer interests.

Temenuzhka Petkova (GERB-SDS): Expressed satisfaction over a joint decision to end the derogation, announcing a combined bill to abolish export quotas for oil products by January 1, 2024, and lift the derogation by March 1, 2024.

Jordan Tzonev (DPS): Highlighted the collaborative nature of the decision-making process, stating that concessions were made by...

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