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Bulgaria: State-Owned Refinery Shut Down

Sofia, 20 March 1997 (RFE/RL) - Bulgaria today shut down fuel supplies to the state-owned refinery near the Black Sea port of Burgas. The refinery is the biggest in Bulgaria and in the Balkans.

Bulgaria's state-owned "Bulgargas" company described the action as "an extraordinary step," in order to force the refinery to pay the $15 million it owes the budget. The company says fuel supplies to the refinery will not resume until the debt is paid.

Our Sofia correspondent reports "Bulgargas" took the action after strong pressure from Russia's "Gazprom" company, which is threatening to halt export of gas to Bulgaria.

When "Gazprom" Director Rem Viakhirov visited Sofia this month, he warned that exports would continue only to countries that can afford to pay. A deal under which Bulgaria received Russian gas at perferential prices expired last year.