Bulgaria plans state company to manage fuel storage and trade

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Bulgaria plans to set up a state-owned company to manage oil and fuel reserves and build petrol filling stations across the Balkan country to boost competition and ensure fair prices for consumers, the government said.

The plan comes days after parliament voted to boost tax controls over the country’s biggest fuel company, Lukoil Bulgaria, owned by Russia’s Lukoil, according to Reuters.

Lukoil owns and operates Bulgaria’s only refinery, the 190,000 barrels-per-day Neftochim Bourgas, and has more than 220 petrol filling stations.

It also controls over 78% of the total volumes that can be held in fuel depots with a special tax status – where traders can keep fuel without paying excise duties, and only pay them after the fuel is sold to consumers.

Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said the new State Oil Company would boost competition and ensure local fuel prices respond more quickly when global oil price fall.

“It is not a secret that for years the retail fuel prices are a challenge for our society,” Goranov told reporters.

In April, the anti-monopoly commission opened a probe into 10 fuel retailers after prosecutors alerted it that retail fuel prices in the country had dropped by an average of only 11% in March, when the global oil price had plunged by about 47%.

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