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Russia's Novatek resumes fuel loadings at damaged Ust-Luga terminal

(Reuters) - Russian energy company Novatek resumed fuel loadings at its Baltic Sea Ust-Luga terminal, damaged in a suspected drone attack, according to industry sources and LSEG data.

The attack and ensuing fire have disrupted Russian fuel exports and added to uncertainty in energy markets already rocked by geopolitical jitters and tensions in the Red Sea region, one of the key gateways for global oil exports.

According to the data, the tankers Minerva Julie and Chrystal Arctic are currently being loaded with fuel.

Novatek did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Novatek said on Sunday it had been forced to suspend some operations at the huge Baltic Sea fuel export terminal and "technological processes" at a nearby fuel-producing complex due to a fire, started by what Ukrainian media said was a drone attack.

Operations at the processing complex have not yet resumed. Analysts have said it would take weeks for the complex to restore full-scale operations.

Novatek's terminal accounted for 2.8 million of the 5.2 million tons of naphtha shipped to Asia from the port of Ust-Luga in 2023, LSEG data show.

The complex receives some 7 million metric tons a year of gas condensate, a type of light oil, from Novaket's Purovsky plant in Western Siberia to produce oil products such as naphtha, jet fuel and gasoil.

Novatek's complex produces mostly naphtha for Asia, including China, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia, as well as jet fuel with delivery to Istanbul for Turkish Airlines.

According to Novatek, in 2022, the Ust-Luga complex produced 6.825 million tons of products, including 4.208 million tons of light and heavy naphtha, 1.052 million tons of jet fuel, 1.487 million tons of ship fuel component (fuel oil) and gasoil as well as 78,000 tons of liquefied petroleum gas.

Analysts said Novatek will now be forced to export more gas condensate instead of high-margin fuel via other terminals.

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