Bulgaria: Serious Fuel Crisis Avoided at the Last Moment

The Administrative Court of Sofia helped the Bulgaria out of a stalemate situation with the Russian oil company Lukoil, by blocking the decision of Bulgaria to deprive Lukoil of its license to operate.

Two lawsuits were opened after Lukoil lodged a claim, the press office of Administrative Court City of Sofia said in a statement 1 August.

The Administrative Court of City of Sofia has stopped the preliminary execution of the two 22 July decisions of the Bulgarian Customs Agency suspending the operator license of Lukoil Neftochim. The conclusion has been reached on the grounds that the claimant is a licensed tax warehouse operator and is subject to a regime of deferred payment of excise duty.

Another decisive circumstance is the fact that claimant has been contracted to supply diesel fuel to Holding Bulgarian State Railways EAD and Sofia Public Transport Company EAD. Apart from that, a letter from the Bulgarian Aviation Group has shown that there are no alternative sources for the supply of aviation fuel.

The court’s actions of can be appealed before the Supreme Administrative Court in seven days’ time from their announcement to the parties. The substantive examination of the two cases by the Administrative Court has been scheduled for 31 August .

Bulgarian Customs Agency’s head Vanyo Tanov has commented that the court has only stopped the preliminary execution of the decisions, which is not a pronouncement on the legality of the revoked licenses. Tanov has confirmed that the Customs Agency would appeal the court’s actions before a superior court instance.

Lukoil Neftochim had its tax warehouse operator permits revoked due to its failure to install in due time the mandatory measuring devices allowing control over taxable fuel volumes released by the company on the market.

The step was officially backed by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, who stressed that the supremacy of the law was the only reason for the Bulgarian government’s actions against Lukoil.

Now, hopefully, both parties in the dispute – the Bulgarian government and Russian Lukoil, will have the much needed timeout for reconsideration, as the Sofia Court has given them the desired break that can lead to a happy end.

(Sources: Novinite.com, Middle East & Balkans News; 1 August 2011)


About Johann Brandstätter

Photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Bulgaria, working mainly in the Balkans and the Middle East. Conflicts & crises, social and environmental issues, defense & military, travel, transportation.
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