Russian Energy Company Suspends Some Operations At Baltic Sea Terminal After Fire


(RFE/RL) — The Russian energy company Novatak suspended some operations at its liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal in the Russian Baltic Sea port of Ust-Luga after a fire erupted early on January 21 following reports of drone sightings in the area. 

Novatek, which is partially owned by Gennady Timchenko, a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said it had been forced to suspend unspecified operations at the huge fuel export terminal due to the fire.

The fuel export terminal that is used to ship oil and gas products to international markets, including to Europe.

It was not clear how long the disruption would last, how many tankers would have to wait outside the port, and what the knock-on effect would be on international energy markets.

Timchenko owns 23.49 percent of Novatek, according to data quoted by Interfax at the time of the company’s annual meeting in April 2023. The largest shareholder is Leonid Mikhelson with 24.76 percent, Interfax said.

The fire at a terminal belonging to Russia’s largest LNG producer, Novatek, was caused by two explosions, state-run Russian news agency RIA Novosti cited local officials as saying.

The agency said the fire has been contained to a 100-cubic-meter fuel depot at the terminal, located about 110 kilometers west of St. Petersburg and near the Estonian border.

Russian media said earlier the fire followed reports of explosions and drone sightings in the area.

Leningrad regional Governor Aleksandr Drozdenko said on Telegram that there were no casualties as a result of the blaze and that the local fire service and the Emergency Situations Ministry was involved in the effort to extinguish it.

The fire was reportedly contained by 9 a.m. local time.

The outlet 47 News published videos and photographs it said showed a “large reservoir” at the Ust-Luga facility on fire. The outlet said that the Russian Defense Ministry had early on January 21 reported the appearance of two drones flying toward St. Petersburg.

The incident comes amid Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine, which has been marked by frequent drone attacks by each side.

On January 20, Ukraine declared an air-raid alert for its entire territory after Russia launched seven drones and three guided missiles at Ukrainian targets. Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of targeting energy and other key infrastructure during the winter cold in an effort to break the Ukrainian people’s will to fight following Russia’s unprovoked invasion in February 2022.

Moscow on January 19 claimed a Ukrainian drone attack had hit an oil depot in Russia’s western Bryansk region. A day earlier, Russian officials claimed an attempted attack on a Baltic Sea oil terminal was unsuccessful.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry traditionally does not comment on or claim responsibility for attacks Moscow claims Kyiv carries out on Russian territory.


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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