26 April, 07:55 PM

How the fires at oil depots in Bryansk may affect the Russian army

NV looked into how the fire at the Transneft-Druzhba oil depot in the Russian city of Bryansk might affect the supply of oil from Russia to Europe, and what impact the fire might have on the capacities of the Russian army.

Last night was a restless one for the residents of Bryansk in Russia, situated 150 km from the Ukrainian border. At 0200, reports of a fire at the Transneft-Druzhba JSC facility appeared. This state-owned company operates a network of major pipelines transporting oil and light oil products.

A number of experts soon claimed that the incident might affect the global oil market. Bryansk is a key oil transport hub for the Druzhba main oil pipeline from Siberia to Europe. After that, the city's pipeline divides into several branches: to the port of St. Petersburg (Russia), to Belarus, and then to the Baltic states, Ukraine and Europe.

However, two sources familiar with the work of the Druzhba oil pipeline, have told NV Business on condition of anonymity that the explosions and fire in Bryansk will not affect its operations.

At the same time, the Russian oil and gas industry has incurred substantial losses. The event may also impact the army of the aggressor state.

So what happened?

Probable sites of fires in Bryansk. In the orange frame: Tatneft-Druzhba’s Bryansk filling point. In the red frame: oil depots of the military unit / Фото: NV

As the incident unfolded, the Russian authorities and state news agencies reported a fire "on the territory of the Transneft-Druzhba oil depot and at another facility."

"Just the two explosions," the witnesses described the outbreak of the fire in the Russian media. They claim not to have seen helicopters over the facility, as happened on April 1 before a similar fire in the Russian border city of Belgorod.

There were also reports of a fire at another facility. But the official Russian news did not specify which facility this was.

According to official information, a task force of the Ministry of Emergencies of Russia headed by the Acting Minister of Emergencies of Russia, Colonel-General Alexander Chuprian, travelled to the scene. A total of 158 people and 51 units of equipment were involved in extinguishing the fire — the forces of the Ministry of Emergencies of Voronezh, Kaluga, Kursk, Orel, Smolensk, Tula oblasts, as well as Moscow.

What was burning, and where?

Signs for Rosneft oil depot and Transneft-Druzhba filling station in Bryansk / Фото: NV

Russian officials and the media have not provided a straight answer about the second facility. One of the videos after the fire shows fire and rescue vehicles turning towards the burning facility. However, the filming is conducted from such an angle that the inscriptions on the signs and pointers are not visible.

NV Business was able to identify this intersection using Google Maps. There are two pointers next to it, stating: "Transneft-Druzhba Bryansk District Administration Filling Point Bryansk" and "Rosneft JSC Bryansknefteprodukt". These are two oil depots located on the same site. Most likely, they are considered one major hazard facility.

According to the scheme of the Rosneft oil depot that was found on the website of one of the contractors, there are 12 tanks for the storage of light petroleum products. They are located near the Transneft reservoirs.

Scheme of Rosneft oil depot in Bryansk / Фото: NV

The Transneft-Druzhba oil depot is considerably larger. In December 2017,it was reported that a new tank with a capacity of 10,000 cubic meters was put into operation at the Bryansk filling point. In parallel, the construction of tanks of 10,000 cubic meters and 1,000 cubic meters was taking place. Plans to dismantle 19 old tanks with capacities of 5,000 cubic meters and perform the reconstruction of five tanks with capacities of 1,000 cubic meters each were also reported.

Representatives of the Russian emergency services reported that the tanks storing 10,000 cubic meters of diesel fuel had exploded.

"These are quite large tanks," said Serhiy Kuyun, director of the A-95 consulting agency. He said that such large tanks for gasoline and diesel are not used at the oil depots of Ukrainian traders.

And that is because it is not just an oil depot, but a filling point, which is the endpoint of the "Kuibyshev - Bryansk" main oil pipeline, connected to Rosneft's refineries.

That is, this facility is not involved in the transportation of oil to European consumers.

A filling point is a regional hub for large wholesale consignments of light petroleum products, including rail tankers. That is, a fire in the storage tanks for diesel fuel could complicate the shipment of finished goods from refineries located over 1,000 kilometers away.

Moreover, it should not be ruled out that the services of the filling point were used by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. After all, there are several military units in Bryansk.

In the end, it turned out that the second facility at which the fire broke out was military unit 55443-90, the 2nd branch of the 3783rd complex base of logistics (Fuel Service), according to the founder of the Conflict Intelligence Team Ruslan Leviev, who announced this on Twitter.

In addition, journalists from the Bryansk branch of the KP publishing house published photos from the bridge near the Bryansk-Lgovsky railway station. It shows two pillars of thick smoke and a train with military equipment, in particular storage tanks for transportation of oil products.

Military equipment in Bryansk amid fires / Фото: KP Bryansk

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