According to the National Assembly Energy Committee Chairman Radoslav Ribarski, Bulgaria will most probably impose a veto on a ban on EU imports of Russian crude oil and petroleum products, proposed by the European Commission, unless the country is allowed a two-year exemption from the embargo.
Ribarski specified that Bulgaria is seeking a two- year deferral for implementing the ban and expects a reply from the European Commission until the end of next week.
The European Commission had tweaked its embargo plan, deciding to give Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic more time to adapt to the sanctions and shift their energy supplies, but Bulgaria, which had also asked for exemptions, was not offered concessions on deadlines.
Ribarski argues that Bulgaria faces the same problem as Hungary and Slovakia because the oil refinery in Burgas is technologically designed to process Russian oil.
Member of the Supervisory Board of Lukoil Neftochim oil refinery Krassimir Parvanov said earlier that the refinery will have to suspend operations if the EU bans the import of Russian oil and petroleum products. The refinery relies on Russian Urals oil for 50 to 60 % of its inputs, and the rest come from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other sources. Parvanov is adamant that Lukoil Neftochim is technologically unable to function without Russian oil, but it can keep working if the embargo is partial and Russian deliveries drop to even 10 % of the total.
Minister of Finance Assen Vassilev argues that the refinery can operate on 100 % non-Russian oil, but because of the irregularity of input deliveries they will have to use part of their reserves. He said that Lukoil Neftochim is currently processing 18,000-20,000 tons of crude daily, of which 50 % is Russian and 50 % is non-Russian already. Bulgaria’s daily demand is about10,000 tons.
However, Former Deputy Minister of Economy Nikola Yankov is adamant that Bulgaria does not need and does not depend on Russian oil. He argued that even if the refinery entirely suspends its operations (as has often been the case for months in order to carry out overhauls), there will be no shortage of fuel as many of the large retail chains even now import petroleum products from Austria, Greece and Romania. According to him, petroleum products can also arrive by tanker in Varna on the Black Sea and by barge in Vidin, Svishtov and Rousse on the Danube, or can be transported by train to Bulgaria from the terminal in Thessaloniki or from Romania.