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21 Jan, 2024 11:21

Russian gas operator names cause of terminal blaze

The Novatek facility on the Baltic coast was set on fire on Sunday
Russian gas operator names cause of terminal blaze

A large fire at a terminal on the Baltic Sea operated by Russian natural gas producer Novatek was caused by an “external impact,” the company has revealed. 

The blaze erupted at the port of Ust-Luga early on Sunday, and was the result of “external influences,” Novatek’s press office said, citing preliminary information. 

“There were no injuries, no threat to human life or health. Currently, the fire has been extinguished, and specialists from the enterprise, emergency response services and the Ministry of Emergency Situations are monitoring the residual burnout of hydrocarbons,” added the company, which is Russia’s second-largest national gas producer. 

Earlier in the day, Leningrad Region Governor Aleksandr Drozdenko said the facility had been set ablaze, adding that employees had been evacuated and that no casualties had been reported.

Based in the Gulf of Finland some 170km west of St. Petersburg and 35km from the Estonian border, the Ust-Luga complex focuses on processing stable gas condensate into light and heavy naphtha, jet fuel, fuel oil, and gasoil. The products processed at its 12 terminals are shipped to international markets through the nearby port, the largest on the Baltic Sea.

In 2022, the facility processed some 7 million tons of gas condensate. The terminal’s likely halt due to the incident places Novatek’s liquid output and oil-product exports at risk.

Local newspaper Fontanka reported that at least two drones were spotted flying towards St. Petersburg before the terminal caught fire. The city’s Pulkovo Airport reportedly introduced its ‘Kovyor’ mode, which involves aircraft departures and landings being suspended due to an external threat.

Ukraine has regularly targeted infrastructure in Russian border regions with drone and missile strikes amid the conflict with Moscow, although attacks on targets as far away as Leningrad Region – around 1,000km from the Ukrainian border – are rarer. Earlier this week, however, the Russian military said a Ukrainian drone had attacked the region, the first known occasion that one had been spotted in the area since the launch of Moscow’s military operation against Ukraine.

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