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Video: Ukrainian Drones Hit Russian Refinery at Port of Tuapse

Tuapse refinery on fire
Courtesy Anton Geraschenko / Telegram

Published Jan 25, 2024 3:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

Just days after a suspected drone strike disabled an LNG terminal at Ust-Luga, Russia, Ukrainian forces hit a Russian refinery at the Black Sea port of Tuapse. The port is hundreds of miles behind the front lines, and the attack reflects the efficacy of Ukraine's new long-range suicide drones. 

Bystander video showed a column of flame and smoke ascending from the center of the complex, near a distillation column. The fire was extinguished within hours, local officials said. The extent of the damage and its effects on refinery operations are not yet known. 

Russian media outlets have also released bystander videos of what appears to be a drone aircraft buzzing towards the refinery complex before impact, confirming Ukrainian claims.  

The Rosneft-owned refinery is part of a vast tank farm complex extending inland from the seaport, and it is the only Russian facility of its kind on the Black Sea coast. No impacts on the waterside infrastructure or the storage tanks were reported.

The effects on global energy markets appear to be slight. According to TankerTrackers.com, Tuapse only exports about 100,000 barrels per day of petroleum - a relatively small fraction of total Russian output, which is measured in millions of barrels per day. 

In addition to the attacks at Ust-Luga and Tuapse, petroleum facilities have also been hit recently in St. Petersburg, Tambov and Bryansk. The string of attacks may be intended to blunt a widely-anticipated new Russian offensive.