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A natural gas pipeline has caught fire in Russia, RIA news agency said on Thursday.
The blast took place at 7:40 a.m. local time and was followed by a fire that affected the underground Peschany Umyot-Storozhevka pipeline near the village of Krasny Oktyabr, operated by Gazprom.
Videos and photos show balls of fire near the pipeline that engulfed acres, and reports were that a smoke column could be seen from several miles away.
The “open burning” of the gas pipeline has since been extinguished, according to the emergency response system.
The most recent reports at the time of writing did not specify whether the pipeline fire would disrupt energy flows from Russian ports, although restoration work has already begun.
“All circumstances of the incident are being clarified,” Yuri Yurin, head of the regional emergency response department, wrote on Telegram. A special commission will review the causes of the incident.
"Gas supply to consumers is carried out in full. Divisions of Gazprom Transgaz Saratov LLC have started restoration work. The reasons for the incident will be established by a special commission," The Ministry of Industry and Energy of the Saratov Region said.
The Saratov area is home to a major military airfield, Engels airbase, and the explosion came around the same time as a flurry of Ukrainian missile and drone attacks on Russian military targets. Ukraine said it successfully launched two drone strikes on Engels last year.
The Peschany Umet–Storozhevka network includes two parallel one-meter-diameter trunklines built during the Soviet era. The natural gas from the pipeline goes to industrial customers in the Saratov region.
Europe has not banned or sanctioned Russian natural gas, but pipeline gas supply from Russia to Europe has slowed to a trickle since Russia invaded Ukraine.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.