Bulgaria has stripped LUKoil Neftochim Bourgas oil refinery of two operation licenses. The company, owned by Russia, failed to install fuel gauges - equipment necessary for measuring fuel production and thus allowing authorities to calculate excise duty.

Oleg Durov, head of oil refinery department of Russia’s second largest crude oil producer LUKoil, arrived in Sofia for talks with governmental officials. But the government abandoned negotiations without reasons. In 20-30 hours the refinery will be halted. The refinery stopped selling fuel on Wednesday. It can take up to one month and a half to restart producing oil.  

According to the Russian Mafia (rumafia.com), it is not the first time when Bulgaria has conflicts with Russian companies. Bulgaria drags joint Russia-Bulgaria projects out, such as construction of Bourgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline and Belane nuclear power plant. However, analysts say that withdrawl of the licenes by Bulgarian government is not aimed against Russian interests. The conflict has purely economic basis - the company did not comply with the requirments. LUKoil Neftochim is the only company in Bulgaria that did not install gauges, although the governemnt had asked to do it a year ago.

Analysts also say that the government took tough measures against LUKoil, because it wants to put fuel market under control and stop rise in retail prices of fuel. It is logical that LUKoil may overturn the revocation of licenses in court. A spokesman of LUKoil’s Moscow office said that the company hoped to find a solution in talks with Bulgarian officials.