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EU state to speed up ban on imports of Russian oil – media

Bulgaria had earlier approved a motion to stop using crude from Russia by October of next year, but lawmakers want to hasten the move

Bulgarian lawmakers are preparing a motion to immediately ban purchases of Russian oil despite earlier plans to wait until next year to do so, local news outlet Mediapool reported on Saturday, citing the head of the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party, Desislava Atanasova.

Bulgaria has been exempt from the EU-wide ban on crude purchases from Russia and allowed to continue buying the fuel for its Neftohim refinery, which is owned by Russia’s Lukoil, until the end of 2024. Earlier this month, lawmakers in Sofia considered a motion to ban using Russian crude at the refinery, but in the end decided to gradually reduce its use and postpone the complete halt until October 2024.

However, Atanasova says her party plans to appeal this decision. According to the report, the country’s parliament may consider the motion in November. If it is approved, Lukoil will have to stop processing Russian oil at its facility within a week.

Another parliamentary faction, the ‘Movement for Rights and Freedoms,’ has already voiced support for GERB’s initiative.

Commenting on the development, Finance Minister Assen Vassilev stressed that a decision regarding the supply of Russian oil to Neftohim has already been made, but noted that the government will consider any new proposals once they are submitted.

Sofia was reluctant to introduce an outright ban on Russian crude due to difficulties the action would have posed for the refinery, which is responsible for most of Bulgaria’s diesel and gasoline supplies. The currently approved schedule is expected to give Neftohim time to find replacements for Russian crude.

READ MORE: Bulgaria to stop imports of Russian oil

Neftohim is located in the city of Burgas on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. According to Lukoil’s website, it is the largest oil refinery on the Balkan Peninsula.

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