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Bulgaria revokes tax on Russian gas transit, but hardens stance on Russian oil

The Bulgarian Parliament has approved a bill to revoke the country's tax on Russian gas transit, while simultaneously approving measures to harden its stance on Russian oil imports. Bulgaria had been levying an additional tax of BGN20/MWh (€10/MWh) on Russian gas passing through to Hungary's borders via the TurkStream pipeline, following sanctions related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The decision to scrap the tax comes after Hungary threatened to block Bulgaria from joining Europe's Schengen area. Following the announcement, Hungary announced that it would lift its objections.

Bulgarian lawmakers simultaneously voted in favour of abandoning an exemption to EU sanctions on oil imports from Russia six months earlier than planned. Thus, starting from March 2024, Bulgaria will ban all Russian oil imports, which were mostly destined for Lukoil’s Burgas refinery. Bulgaria was granted an exemption from the EU's embargo on Russian crude to allow the refinery to produce oil products for the country's own consumption. The exemption was set to last until December 2024, a date which was later changed to October 2024. 

However, Bulgaria had previously announced that it was planning to reduce its dependence on Russian oil and even imposed a 60% tax on the profits of Lukoil in the country. The Russian company in turn said that it was considering selling the refinery.

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