Lukoil CEO Urges Fight against Shadow Carbon Pricing
Lukoil's investment would secure best quality of fossil fuels on the Bulgarian market, the company's CEO Vagit Alekperov has said.
The Russian company's CEO is in Bulgaria for the official opening of a heavy oil residue conversion plant at the Lukoil Neftochim Burgas refinery. Similar facilities are only located in 7 other countries around the world.
In an interview with daily Standart, Alekperov asserted that, Alekperov explained the plant would be operational the very same day (Wednesday), as all the materials needed for its proper functioning had been loaded over the past weeks. Some 5.5 M tonnes of oil will be processed at the plant in 2015 and about 6.5-6.8 M in 2016, the chief executive said, explaining that this year's drop was linked to a negative trend on the market.
Though a lot of the fuel will come from Russia (as the case is with the Burgas refinery), the new facility will also process oil from Russian-operated fields in Iraq, since "Arab oil has better indicators than [the one] extracted in Russia." Part of the output will be exported abroad, most probably to other Southeast European countries.
He described PM Boyko Borisov's decision to attend the Wednesday ceremony was "a great honor".
In his words, talks with Borisov touched the issue of low-quality fuels imported in the country which are not levied in any way.
"I was amazed at the number of filling stations in Bulgaria. In Russia, which has a population of 140 million, there are about 26 000 filling stations, while in Bulgaria, with 7 million, there are 30 000 filling stations. This is not normal!" Alekperov argued, adding he called on Borisov to fight the "gray market" of fossil fuels in Bulgaria.
In his words, Lukoil has invested over USD 4 B since it set foot in Bulgaria by acquiring Burgas-based Neftochim in 1999 and opening filling stations across the country (now numbering 221).
"In the past two years here we've never felt any negative attitude toward us. Throughout this period no artificial obstacles have been posed to our investment into Bulgaria."
Alekperov explained sanctions against Russia had not affected its business activities relating to the new plant in Bulgaria, since the decision to pursue the project was taken "well before prices went down" and sanctions were imposed.
On Tuesday, the chief executive also met Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev.
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