In a significant development, Ukraine’s Armed Forces (AFU) have successfully regained control of the Boyko Towers gas and oil production platforms near the shores of Crimea in the Black Sea. These platforms had been occupied by Russia since 2014.
WHAT ARE THE BOIKO TOWERS?
The Boiko Towers consist of two gas production drilling platforms: B312, known as Petro Godovanets (constructed in 2010), and B319, known as Ukraine (built in 2012). These platforms are situated off the coast of Crimea in the Black Sea.
During Yuriy Boyko’s tenure as the head of Ukraine’s Ministry of Energy in 2011, Chornomornaftogaz, which was under the ministry’s control, acquired a drilling platform built in Singapore. This purchase, made indirectly through the British company Highway Investments Processing, raised concerns due to a $400 million markup in cost compared to buying directly from the manufacturer, Keppel. This led to a criminal investigation into potential embezzlement by Boyko.
WHEN WERE THE TOWERS CAPTURED BY THE RUSSIANS?
In March 2014, during the Russian invasion of Crimea, the Russian military seized the Ukrainian drilling platforms Petro Godovanets and Ukraine while they were still in Ukraine’s territorial waters on the Odesa gas field. The Russians also took control of the self-elevating drilling rigs Tavrida and Syvash. By December 2015, the drilling platforms had been relocated to the Golitsyn field near the coast of Crimea.
As of 2022, the Russians had equipped these stolen platforms with electronic reconnaissance and combat equipment, allowing them to monitor the sea’s surface, air, and underwater space in the north-western part of the sea between Crimea and Odesa.
WHY IS REGAINING CONTROL OVER THE TOWERS IMPORTANT FOR UKRAINE?
The British Ministry of Defence had reported ongoing battles between Ukrainian and Russian naval and air forces for these strategically vital gas and oil platforms in the Black Sea, situated between Crimea and Odesa. These platforms not only control valuable hydrocarbon resources but also serve as forward deployment bases, helipads, and potential sites for long-range missile systems, similar to Snake Island.
WHO CONDUCTED THE OPERATION TO RETURN THE TOWERS TO UKRAINIAN CONTROL?
The operation to regain control of the towers was executed by units of the HUR. These intelligence operatives successfully reclaimed the platforms Petro Godovanets and Ukraine, along with the drilling rigs Tavrida and Syvash, restoring them to Ukrainian control.
During the operation, a skirmish occurred between Ukrainian Special Forces on boats and a Russian Su-30 fighter jet. The Russian plane sustained damage and was forced to retreat, according to the HUR.
The successful operation to regain control of the Boyko Towers gas and oil platforms in the Black Sea is a significant development in the ongoing conflict in the region. These platforms hold strategic importance for Ukraine, and their recapture represents a significant achievement for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
The operation also highlights the determination and bravery of Ukrainian Special Forces, who successfully navigated challenging conditions to reclaim these vital assets.