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Fire breaks out at Russia’s Novatek terminal on Baltic Sea


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SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA – 2022/06/15: Novatek Logo seen on the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2022 (SPIEF 2022). (Photo by Maksim Konstantinov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

A fire broke out at a terminal of Russia’s largest liquefied natural gas producer Novatek on the Baltic Sea, a regional official said on Sunday, amid reports of drone sightings in the area.

“There were no casualties as a result of the fire at the Novatek terminal in the port of Ust-Luga. The personnel were evacuated,” Leningrad regional Governor Alexander Drozdenko said on the Telegram messaging app.

Drozdenko did not say what caused the fire at the terminal at the all-season port in the Russian part of the Gulf of Finland, about 170 km (110 miles) west of St. Petersburg and 35 km from the Estonian border.

Russian news outlet Shot reported on Telegram that residents had heard a drone followed by several explosions. St. Petersburg-based news outlet Fontanka said at least two drones were spotted in the sky flying towards St. Petersburg before the reports of the fire at the terminal.

Three large international tankers were near the fire, although there were no reports of damage to them, Fontanka said.

Baza, a Russian news outlet known for its security services contacts, posted footage on Telegram of big flames shooting into the sky over what appeared to be an industrial complex.

Drozdenko said a “high alert regime” had been introduced in the area and officials had gathered for an emergency meeting.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine. Novatek did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Ust-Luga complex, launched in 2013, processes stable gas condensate into light and heavy naphtha, jet fuel, fuel oil and gasoil, according to Novatek’s website. The port allows for the shipment of processed products to international markets.

Novatek processed 3.4 million tons of stable gas condensate at the complex in the first half of 2023, according the most recent data available, up 0.6% from the same period a year earlier.

Russia and Ukraine have targeted each other’s energy infrastructure in strikes designed to disrupt supply lines and logistics, each side seeking to demoralise the other in a nearly two-year-old war that shows no sign of ending.

On Friday, a drone attack hit an oil depot in Russia’s western region of Bryansk, bordering Ukraine, for which Moscow blamed Kyiv. That came a day after an attack on a Russian Baltic Sea oil terminal that Russian officials said was unsuccessful.

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