Bulgaria’s parliament decided to halt crude oil imports from Russia starting March 1, even though they had permission from the EU to continue until October 1. The amendment, driven by the pro-Western governing majority, also stops the export of products made from Russian crude oil from January 1.

This decision directly impacts the Lukoil Neftohim refinery near Burgas on the Black Sea, largely owned by Russia. The parliament swiftly adopted these new rules without debate, aiming to prompt the refinery to seek alternative crude oil suppliers.

The move was justified due to the lack of progress in the refinery transitioning to other oil sources despite the exemption granted by Brussels for Russian oil imports. The head of the parliamentary energy committee highlighted this as a step to hinder Kremlin-related profits funding military activities in Ukraine.

In response, Russian oil giant Lukoil expressed plans to reassess its strategy in Bulgaria, considering options like selling the refinery and petrol stations due to the altered business environment.

The Lukoil Neftohim refinery, operational since 1963 and privatized in 1999, stands as one of the largest in southeastern Europe.