© Yulia Lazarova
Kiril Petkov and Delyan Dobrev
Get the big news as it happens – straight to your email.
GERB and “Continuing the change – Democratic Bulgaria” will introduce a joint bill to drop the derogation for the import of Russian oil for Bulgaria, which mainly benefits the “Lukoil Neftohim” refinery. This was announced by Temenuzka Petkova, Yordan Tsonev and Venko Sabrutev on the sidelines of the parliament. The general draft law will include the deadline for withdrawal, which the parties supporting the government agreed on on November 17 – from January 1, 2024, the export quotas will be abolished, and from March 1, the derogation will also be abolished.
The appearance of the three came after a requested 15-minute break, requested at the end of the debates on two bills of the formations supporting the cabinet.
A bill introduced by Kiril Petkov, in which the deadline for repealing the derogation is between March 1 and 15, was not accepted in committee yesterday, after on Tuesday GERB and DPS once again requested an even more recent cancellation of the derogation – from January 1. This term is not supported by “Continuing the change – Democratic Bulgaria” and the bill was also rejected in committee. In the end, the two proposals for changes to the Control Law on the Implementation of Restrictive Measures in view of Russia’s actions destabilizing the situation in Ukraine will be withdrawn for the sake of the general text.
It remains to specify how to schedule the audit, which the Customs Agency must do by December 31, in order to determine what already processed quantities are in the warehouses of the refinery and whether they will be able to be exported so as not to clog the warehouses.
During the debates on the two bills in the hall, speeches were made almost entirely by the opposition. BSP, “Vazrazhdane”, “Ima talikny narod” and the independent Radostin Vasilev said that the formations in the government are trying to steal the refinery, but they still cannot understand who will do it. Kostadin Kostadinov stated that if oil other than Russian oil is used, the fuels sold by the refinery will be much more expensive. The reason is that tankers will have to go through the Bosphorus, and the fees for this have increased several times in the last year and are now $19,200 per tanker. Rumen Gechev from BSP added another nuance – according to him, Russian oil will be received from Turkey, and then the country will resell fuel to Bulgaria.
In March 2022, the European Commission imposed an embargo on the import of Russian crude oil in an attempt to limit the Kremlin’s income, which it uses to finance the war against its neighbor Ukraine. Bulgaria, however, requested an exception until the end of 2024, and the motive of the “Petkov” cabinet was the impossibility of “Lukoil Neftohim” to work with non-Russian oil.
At the end of July this year, with a bill GERB-SDS, “We continue the change-Democratic Bulgaria” (PP-DB) and DPS proposed that the derogation be taken away from “Lukoil”, and this should be done 30 days after its adoption. Between the readings in committees and the votes in the plenary hall, the decision changed and in the end the derogation remained until October 2024. The Chairman of the Energy Commission Delyan Dobrev stated that Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov insisted on this. He, for his part, said that the refinery needed time to replace Russian oil, and the risks of a rapid change were indicated in reports of the services.
On November 9, the Brussels publication “Politico” published an investigation, according to which “Lukoil” used loopholes in the regulatory framework to violate the European embargo, using Bulgaria, and the Kremlin used the money to finance the war.