EU nations prevent shipments of Russian oil


(MENAFN) In a surprising move, Bulgaria has decided to halt all imports of Russian oil from March 1, breaking away from its exemption under a European Union ban, as reported by Novinite on Friday. The Balkan nation's decision to completely sever ties with Russian crude comes after reducing imports by 50 percent in January and an additional 25 percent in February. Initially granted an exemption until the end of 2024, Bulgaria chose to prematurely waive this privilege in mid-December, expressing concerns that the exemption could be exploited to circumvent Western sanctions against Russia.

Bulgaria, previously one of the few European Union countries permitted to continue purchasing Russian oil, justified its decision by citing potential risks associated with the exemption. Notably, Russian oil had accounted for a significant 90 percent of Bulgaria's total consumption. The impact of this abrupt halt will be felt most acutely by Bulgaria's sole refinery, Neftohim, which is owned by Lukoil, the Russian energy giant. Lukoil not only serves as the main supplier of gasoline to Bulgaria but also owns an extensive network of gas stations in the country.

Analysts have cautioned that the ban on Russian oil purchases will pose challenges for Bulgaria's energy sector, particularly in terms of crude supply for its vital refinery. Furthermore, concerns linger regarding the nation's ability to secure alternative sources of crude once the European Union exemption expires. Experts highlight potential obstacles, including insufficient port infrastructure and congestion in the Bosphorus Strait, which may complicate Bulgaria's efforts to diversify its energy sources and navigate the shifting geopolitical landscape in the European energy sector.

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