Bulgaria’s parliament decided on September 21 to instruct the government to stop imports of Russian oil despite being allowed to continue the imports until the end of 2024.
Bulgaria was granted an exemption from the EU-wide ban on imports of Russian oil as its sole oil refinery, Lukoil Neftochim Burgas, needed time to adjust its equipment to produce fuels with other type of oil.
On September 21, the parliament adopted in its first reading changes to the law on restrictive measures towards Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine.
122 MPs from pro-Western Gerb, Change Continues-Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB) and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) backed the changes, while 43 MPs from pro-Russian Vazrazhdane, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and There Are Such People voted against.
The government has to stop imports of Russian oil within one month after the law enters in force.
The lawmakers also allowed the state to take over operation of the oil refinery, owned by Russian Lukoil, in case of a threat to national security.
The government will be allowed to propose a special trade representative who should then be approved by the parliament.
Until the start of the Russian war in Ukraine, Bulgaria was almost completely dependent on Russia for imports of oil and natural gas. However, the former pro-Western government of Kiril Petkov put significant efforts into diversifying the natural gas supplies. Currently, the country does not import Russian gas.