MOSCOW: A Ukrainian drone struck Russia’s third largest oil refinery on Tuesday about 1,300 km from the front lines, hitting a unit that processes about 155,000 barrels of crude per day though an industry source said it had caused no critical damage.

Russian officials said its jamming devices locked onto a Ukrainian drone near Tatneft’s Taneco refinery, which has an annual production capacity of more than 17 million tons (340,000 barrels per day).

Pictures from the scene indicated the drone hit the primary refining unit, CDU-7, at the refinery in Russia’s highly industrialised Tatarstan region, though it did not appear to have caused serious damage. The industry source said the personnel was returning to the plant.

A fire broke out at the refinery but was extinguished within 20 minutes, the state news agency RIA said, adding that output had not been disrupted. The unit that was hit accounts for around a half of the plant’s total annual production capacity. The refinery accounts for about 6.2pc of Russia’s refining capacity.

Brent briefly rose above $89 a barrel for the first time since October amid concern over the Ukrainian drone attacks and the escalating conflict in the Middle East.

A military intelligence source in Ukraine said the primary Taneco refining unit had been hit, causing a fire. The aim of the strike, the source added, was to reduce Russia’s oil revenue. Another Ukrainian intelligence source said Ukrainian-made drones had also hit a Russian plant producing long-range “Shahed” attack drones, causing “significant damage”.According to calculations, around 14pc of Russia’s refining capacity has been shut down by drone attacks. There is more demand for refined oil products than for Russian crude.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2024

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