Russian Baltic terminal hit by drones from Ukraine

Novatek’s gas terminal at Ust-Luga on the Baltic has been hit by two Ukrainian drones, some 500 miles from Ukraine. The attack led to a massive fire at the Russian energy company’s gas terminal. All its staff were evacuated. Novatek is Russia’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

There were four tankers were moored at the port at the time of the attack, but none was damaged. The tankers left the port rapidly when the fire began, and all were away from the port within an hour. Three international tanker ships were anchored near the Ust-Luga terminal, though there were no reports of damage to them from the fire, according to the St Petersburg-based media outlet Fontanka.

Novatek said it had halted a number of operations at its terminal, which sits on the Gulf of Finland about 110 miles west of St. Petersburg. Ust-Luga is Russia’s second largest port.

UK maritime security consultancy Ambrey said that it was the second Ukrainian drone attack on a Russian Baltic Sea port within four days. On January 18th the port of St Petersburg had been hit by debris from one or more UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles).

The Ust-Luga complex is used to ship oil and gas products to international markets. It processes stable gas condensate into light and heavy naphtha, kerosene and diesel, to be shipped by sea. Novatek processed 3.4m tons of stable gas condensate at the complex in the first half of 2023,

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

Alexander Drozdenko, governor of the oblast (region), which is still named Leningrad, said on social media that there had been no casualties at the Ust-Luga terminal and all workers had been safely evacuated.

Russian news agencies reported that two storage tanks and a pumping station had been damaged, but that the fire had been brought under control.