Footage of blaze on oil drilling platform filmed years before Ukraine attack

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After Ukraine struck an oil drilling platform in the Black Sea that it said was being used by Russian troops, footage was viewed thousands of times in Chinese-language social media posts that claimed it showed the attack. However, the footage has circulated online since at least 2004, although AFP was unable to confirm where it was filmed.

"Ukrainian army destroys its own drilling platform," reads a simplified-Chinese Weibo post shared on June 21.

The footage, viewed more than 40,000 times, shows hoses dousing water on a fire on a toppled platform in the sea.

The clip surfaced in similar posts, including on Weibo and Twitter, after Ukraine attacked an oil drilling platform in the Black Sea on June 20, saying it was being used by Russian troops as a military installation.

The attack, which targeted a rig with four towers some 70 kilometres (40 miles) off the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula, was the first such strike against offshore energy infrastructure in Crimea since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

A screenshot of the misleading post, taken on June 23, 2022

However, the footage was filmed years before the attack.

A reverse image search on Google found a longer version of the video posted on YouTube on December 10, 2008.

The title reads: "Oil rig in Red Sea extinguishing".

Below is a comparison of the video falsely shared as footage of the Ukraine attack (left) and the 2008 YouTube video (right):

Comparison of the video falsely shared as footage of the Ukraine attack (L) and the 2008 YouTube video (R)

The YouTube user who posted the footage did not respond to AFP's requests for more information.

Meanwhile, digital investigator Benjamin Pittet tweeted a photo -- which was originally posted on the website of ship-tracking company MarineTraffic -- showing the orange ship dousing water on the toppled platform.

The photo on MarineTraffic's website is dated October 7, 2004, although no information is provided about where it was taken.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video (left) and MarineTraffic's photo from 2004 (right):

Screenshot comparison of the video (L) and MarineTraffic's photo from 2004 (R)

In August 2004, AFP reported on an explosion at a drilling rig called the Adriatic IV at Temsah, 60 kilometres (35 miles) from Port Said in Egypt.

The fire later spread to a natural gas platform, where it burned for more than one week.

AFP was unable to confirm if the footage shows the same blaze.

Ukraine conflict