Lukoil Refinery Struck in Drone Attack


Lukoil Refinery Struck in Drone Attack
Lukoil in early 2021 commissioned a new API Group II base oil plant at its refinery in Volgograd, Russia. Photo courtesy of Lukoil

Lukoil’s refinery in Volgograd, Russia, site of a major lubricant manufacturing complex, was struck last weekend by a drone purportedly launched by the armed forces of Ukraine.

Lukoil claimed that there was no lasting impact on the refinery’s operations.

A night video circulating on local media and Telegram channels shows blazing flames and a burning refinery tower. The strike was confirmed by the Volgograd Governor Andrei Bocharov, who wrote on his Telegram channel, ”Overnight, air defenses and electronic warfare systems repelled [an unmanned aerial vehicle] attack on the territory of the Volgograd Region. As a consequence, one drone fell and set off a fire at the Volgograd refinery.”

The attack happened early Saturday morning local time, and Lukoil published a short statement later that day.

“The forces of the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the company’s gas rescue unit put out the fire on the pipeline to the refinery’s atmospheric and vacuum distillation unit,” Lukoiil said in a Feb. 3 news release. “Volgograd refinery continues to operate in regular mode.”

The unit referenced above, named ELOU-AVT-5, is one of the refinery’s five primary oil processing units, was recently upgraded and has capacity to process 3.5 million metric tons of crude oil per year. Lukoil claims the Volgograd refinery is the biggest producer of petroleum products in the Southern federal district, covering eight regions in southwest Russia.

The refinery includes a base oil plant with capacity to produce 270,000 t/y of API Group I oils, 220,000 t/y of Group II and 30,000 tons of Group III.

At the same site  is a lubricants blending plant and a grease factory controlled by Intesmo, a joint venture between Lukoil’s lube arm, LLK International, and state owned RZD, Russia’s railroad operator.

“It seems that the fire in the refinery was put out quickly,” B. O. Ahrstrom, ex-first vice president of Intesmo, told Lube Report on Tuesday. “Given the redundancy of pipelines in a refinery, I think that the operation of Intesmo will be secure.”

Last weekend’s attack was the seventh such strike since the beginning of this year and continued a pattern of targeting fuel refineries and storage depots deep inside Russia. Volgograd is about 600 kilometers from Ukraine’s northeastern border. A previous attack struck a St. Petersburg gas terminal around 800 km from Ukraine’s northern border.

Kyiv is trying to retaliate to the much more destructive and more frequent rocket and drone attacks by Russia on Ukrainian industrial and civil infrastructure.

There are two other fuel refineries with base oil plants in the European part of Russia: Slavneft’s in Yaroslavl and Rosneft’s in Novokuybishevsk. The base oil plant at the former refinery has capacity to produce 150,000 t/y of Group I and 100,000 t/y of Group III base oils, while the latter has capacity to make 260,000 t/y of Group I base oils.

Lukoil operates another base oil plant in Perm, with capacity to make 480,000 t/y of Group I base oils. Perm is much further eastward, located about 1,440 km east of Moscow.