EU country stops imports of Russian oil

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Bulgaria has prematurely waived its exemption from a EU embargo which allowed it to buy crude until the end of 2024

Bulgaria stopped imports of Russian oil from March 1, prematurely discarding its exemption from an EU ban, news outlet Novinite reported on Friday.

The Balkan country’s move to completely abandon deliveries of crude from sanctions-hit Russia follows a 50% reduction in imports in January and an additional 25% cut in February.

Bulgaria was initially exempt from an EU ban on Russian crude and allowed to continue buying it until the end of 2024, but Sofia passed a motion in mid-December that prematurely waived its exemption and restricted imports of Russian oil.

Bulgaria, one of the few EU countries that was exempt from the bloc-wide ban, has moved to end imports of Russian oil on the grounds that the exemption might be used to bypass Western sanctions.

Russian oil had previously accounted for 90% of its total consumption.

The ban on purchases of Russian oil will affect the country’s sole refinery, Neftohim, which is owned by Lukoil, experts say. The Russian oil company is the main supplier of gasoline to Bulgaria, where it also owns a network of gas stations.

Experts have previously warned that Bulgaria may find it difficult to obtain crude supplies once the EU exemption ends, due to the lack of adequate port infrastructure and congestion in the Bosphorus Strait.

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