A huge fire has broken out at the Amur Gas Processing Plant in Svobodny in the far east of Russia, just a few months after it was opened by president Vladimir Putin
A major explosion erupted at a large gas refinery in Russia causing a fire and leading to the plant’s closure.
The blaze at Amur Gas Processing Plant comes amid a major row with Europe, including Britain, over winter supplies.
Huge flames can be seen shooting up off the plant in Svobodny in the far east of the country, leaping tens of metres into the air.
A plant official said: “Gas supply to the plant has been suspended. All work processes have been suspended.
“Emergency services are still working and there is no confirmation that the fire has been completely extinguished.”
It is not immediately clear what the impact on Russia’s overall gas supply system will be.
Russian officials said that the fire at the far eastern plant had been extinguished, but it was not clear if the shutdown would lead to Moscow switching more gas from Yamal – which supplies Europe to the the east where China is a key client.
The blaze comes at a tense time for those concerned with the world gas market, with prices already spiralling across the globe.
Vladimir Putin has been accused of choking off supplies, to force Europe to become dependent on a new pipeline.
The blaze broke out early one Friday following decompression of the plant’s equipment.
No-one was reported injured, and there is no threat for the facility or nearby settlements, said sources.
The Amur plant – six time zones east of capital city Moscow – started functioning in July and was opened in a remote ceremony by Putin.
It is still under construction as one of the largest infrastructure projects of Gazprom.
A criminal probe has opened into the explosion.
Britain has accused Putin of deliberately restricting gas exports to force the EU into approving Nord Stream 2, a pipeline under the Baltic Sea.
“Russia is choking off supply to then sell themselves as a solution,” said an official British source.
“Approving Nord Stream 2 would give Russia a stranglehold over international gas prices and leave the EU even more dependent on them.”
Domestically Brits are facing large price rises for their gas, due to a multitude of issues including supply.
This morning Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley said there will be a “significant rise” in the price cap set by the industry regulator which helps to control the cost of gas and electricity in the UK.
“We can’t predict everything, and the wholesale market, as we’ve seen, has gone up and down extremely quickly so we can’t predict fully what that will be,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“But, looking at the costs that are in the system, we are expecting a significant rise in April.”
But Mr Brearley added that the current price cap will remain until April.
“We have no plans to raise the price cap before April,” he said.