Ukraine destroys Russian oil refineries

In 2024, 7 Russian oil refineries, providing up to a third of the country’s petroleum product production, were attacked by Ukrainian drones.
Origin source
Since the beginning of the year, there have been 11 drone attacks on Russian enterprises related to the oil industry, mainly oil refining. The capacity of the attacked plants exceeds a third of the total production of petroleum products in the country. Although the level of damage to the attacked enterprises is unknown, as well as the dynamics of oil refining volumes, fuel prices have already begun to rise

Since the beginning of the year, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have carried out at least 11 attacks on enterprises processing, storing and transporting Russian petroleum products. Seven oil refineries have already been attacked, with a total capacity of 102.5 million tons. Previously, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak estimated the volume of oil refining in 2023 at 275 million tons. Thus, a third of all refining capacities have already been attacked by Ukrainian drones . However, there is no current data on production at Russian refineries in the public domain.

Chronology of attacks

The first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attack on Russian oil infrastructure in 2024 occurred on January 18. The drone, while attempting to strike the St. Petersburg Oil Terminal (PNT), was suppressed by electronic warfare (EW) equipment, and its debris collapsed in the area of the terminal. PNT is one of the largest Russian terminals for transshipment of petroleum products in the Baltic region, its throughput capacity is 12.5 million tons of petroleum products per year.

The next day, on the morning of January 19, the UAV flew into Klintsy, Bryansk region. The drone was also suppressed by electronic warfare, but managed to drop ammunition onto the territory of the Klintsovsk oil depot of Rosneft, causing a fire in the tanks. The transshipment tank farm stores AI-92 and AI-95 gasoline, as well as diesel fuel. The tank farm's capacity of 11 tanks is 8,500 cubic meters. m.

On the night of January 21, a drone attack led to a fire at the Novatek offshore oil products terminal in Ust-Luga. The terminal's throughput capacity is 30 million tons per year, the tank farm capacity is 960,000 cubic meters. m. On January 25, a fire broke out at an oil depot in Tuapse in the Krasnodar Territory, which is part of the Rosneft Tuapse Refinery. The enterprise's capacity allows it to process 12 million tons of oil per year. According to Reuters, after the attack the plant was shut down indefinitely. It will take at least three months to repair Rosneft's Tuapse oil refinery, Energy Minister Nikolai Shulginov told reporters at the Russia international exhibition and forum on February 20. On January 29, a drone crashed on the territory of the Slavneft-Yanos refinery in the Yaroslavl region, without causing a fire or destruction. The installed capacity of the enterprise is 15 million tons of oil per year.

In the Kstovsky district of the Nizhny Novgorod region, two drones were neutralized on January 31. The drones were armed with explosives and no damage was reported. In this area there is the Lukoil-Nizhegorodnefteorgsintez oil refinery, one of the largest gasoline oil refining enterprises in the country, with an installed oil refining capacity of 17 million tons per year. And on the morning of February 3, the fall of an unmanned aerial vehicle led to a strong fire at another Lukoil plant - Lukoil-Volgogradneftepererabotka in the Krasnoarmeysky district of Volgograd.
The plant's capacity is 14.8 million tons per year.

The latest raids to date were carried out this week. On March 12, an attack was launched directly at the Lukoil-Nizhegorodnefteorgsintez oil refinery; the plant suspended the operation of one of the technological units after it caught fire. On March 13, a Ukrainian UAV attacked the Rosneft-owned oil refinery RNPK (Ryazan Oil Refinery Company), causing a fire. RNPK is the largest oil refining enterprise in the Central Federal District. Its design capacity is 17.1 million tons of oil per year. On the same day, in the Kirishi district of the Leningrad region, an aircraft-type UAV was shot down while approaching the KINEF refinery plant of Surgutneftegaz. The attack did not cause casualties or destruction. The enterprise's capacity is 21 million tons. And then, on March 13, a UAV fell on the territory of the Novoshakhtinsky oil products plant in the Rostov region. There were no deaths or injuries as a result of the attack, but the enterprise's technological facilities were suspended. The plant later resumed production, according to Reuters. The capacity of the Novoshakhtinsky plant is 5.6 million tons of oil per year. Its owner is Gazprom contractor Peton Invest Technology.

Thus, of the seven oil refineries that were attacked, damage to one degree or another was recorded at five. Their total capacity is 66.5 million tons.
Unknown damage

“The refineries were chosen as the target of attacks to create the impression that the Russian authorities are not competent enough in terms of ensuring the security of such important industrial facilities,” believes Stanislav Mitrakhovich, an expert at the Financial University and the National Energy Security Foundation. According to him, it can hardly be said that the strikes were aimed specifically at enterprises producing gasoline, 90% of which goes to the domestic market. “It seems to me that this would be a very big exaggeration of Ukrainian capabilities, since the attacks were not only on gasoline plants,” says Mitrakhovich. “It’s more about where Ukrainian drones are reaching.” Although, he adds, one of the goals of the attacks could actually be to create a shortage of petroleum products on the domestic market.

  “It seems to me that it is not possible to assess the shortfall in the supply of petroleum products at this stage, since there are no details of the incidents, specific information about which installations and how seriously they were damaged, and, accordingly, how long their restoration may take,” I agree senior analyst at Alfa Bank Nikita Blokhin. Serious damage to the industry, he said, was caused by the suspension of the technological process at the Lukoil-Nizhegorodnefteorgsintez refinery. “If you believe media reports that suggest damage to one of the four primary oil refining units, the lost capacity of the Nizhny Novgorod refinery provided approximately 3% of motor fuel consumption in the country, including diesel and gasoline. In the best years, when both catalytic cracking units of the enterprise were operating, it provided 10-11% of gasoline consumption in the country, but after a fire at one of them in December, gasoline output decreased by half,” says the expert.

“It’s still difficult to assess the damage,” agrees Mitrakhovich. “We must wait for messages from companies about where and what was destroyed.” According to him, so far there is only relative clarity with the Lukoil-Nizhegorodnefteorgsintez oil refinery, which first stopped one of the units and then was attacked by drones. If it stops completely, the market will lose approximately 10% of gasoline. However, this can be compensated by the announced ban on the export of gasoline, the same 10% of which was exported abroad.

Blokhin also adds that in conditions when the companies that own the attacked and damaged refineries refrain from making meaningful comments, all assessments are purely speculative. “If in the case of a catalytic cracking unit the difficulty lies in the fact that foreign equipment is used for its maintenance, which requires the supply of spare parts from abroad, then the repair of a primary processing unit involves the replacement of domestic components and can be carried out in a shorter period of time,” explains Blokhin. — A similar situation is observed at the Ryazan Oil Refinery of Rosneft, where, according to media reports, a fire occurred at two primary oil refining units, which threatens the plant with a shutdown of 70% of its capacity. Since both plants were forced to stop the technological process at these facilities, the Russian market may miss about 7-8% of motor fuel consumption in the country.”

Even before the latest attacks, on February 20, Russian Energy Minister Nikolai Shulginov said that repairs at Lukoil-Nizhegorodnefteorgsintez alone could take several months, and at the Tuapse refinery - at least three.

According to Alfa-Bank analysts, at the moment the situation with the supply of petroleum products to the domestic market cannot be called critical. “But it should be noted that after the winter period, characterized by the restrained nature of fuel consumption in the country, a seasonal increase in demand will begin in April-May before the start of the summer season,” explains Blokhin. “If the reduction in the throughput capacity of key refineries for the central region drags on indefinitely, the effect could be much more significant, which, despite the continuing fuel surplus in the country, could upset the balance of supply and demand in the market.”

Amid the attacks, stock prices for fuel have increased by 1 to 3% over the past two days. AI-92 gasoline, based on trading results at the St. Petersburg International Commodity and Raw Materials Exchange (SPIMEX), from March 11 to March 13, increased in price from 46,916 rubles per ton to 48,182 rubles, summer diesel fuel - from 59,962 to 61,791 rubles per ton, winter - from 62,455 to 63,103 rubles.