Lukoil vs Bulgaria's Customs Agency Trial Gets Third Postponement

Energy | November 9, 2011, Wednesday // 15:11|  views

Andrey Delchev, one of the lawyers representing Lukoil, insisted that the latest postponement was granted over objections raised by the Customs Agency. Photo by BGNES

The two trials for Lukoil's suspended tax warehouse operator permits at the Administrative Court Sofia City (ACSC) have once again been rescheduled.

The third postponement was granted on Wednesday, with ACSC rescheduling the next session for December 12, the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA) reported.

The step was taken after Lukoil's defenders failed to present in court documents which the expert witnesses had used to prepare their technical assessment.

The technical expert statement, which was the reason for the previous postponement, was said to have been completed.

The presentation of the document, however, was put off for December 12, the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA) reported.

The document is to specify the spots at the Burgas-based refinery and the Rosenetz oil terminal where measuring devices must be placed, the location and the number of the devices already mounted, the normal deadline for their installation and their cost.

On July 22, the Customs Agency revoked Lukoil's licenses for two tax warehouses because of the company's failure to equip the facilities with the mandatory measuring devices providing a direct link to the tax authorities.

After lodging an appeal against the preliminary execution of the acts of the Customs Agency, the Neftochim refinery was allowed to stay in operation until the case was resolved with a verdict.

The temporary production halt at Lukoil Neftochim caused Bulgaria to tap state reserves for jet fuel for the airports in Varna, Burgas and Sofia.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov recently expressed optimism that the company would manage to install the devices by the end of the year, while Customs Agency head Vanyo Tanov remained skeptical that the process could be wrapped up before mid-2012.

Asked to comment on the situation, Bulgarian legal experts said that the trial would most likely drag into 2012, by which time the company would manage to install 90% of the mandatory equipment.

Responding to allegations of a deliberately protracted litigation, Andrey Delchev, one of the lawyers representing Lukoil and a Chair of the Bulgarian Petroleum and Gas Association (BPGA) stated that the company agreed with the conclusions of the expert witnesses and had been prepared for the document's presentation at Wednesday's session of the ACSC.

The Customs Agency, however, objected that the technical expert statement was incomplete, remarking that there was no data about the time of installation of the already installed pieces of equipment.

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Tags: refinery, Lukoil Neftochim, Rosenets oil terminal, Customs Agency, Lukoil, Andrey Delchev, Bulgarian Petroleum and Gas Association, Administrative Court Sofia City


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