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$700M Shipyards Planned for Far East

Putin looking at scale models of shipyards planned to be built by Asian companies in Bolshoi Kamen on Monday. Alexei Nikolsky

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Monday announced plans for the state-run United Shipbuilding Corporation to build two major infrastructure projects with foreign partners, with investments of a combined $700 million.

He also said the government had created a $5 billion plan for the purchase of civilian ships and related technology in the Far East through 2020, a move that he said was crucial to ensuring the new ventures’ success.

“Above all, we’re talking about orders from our largest companies — Gazprom, Rosneft and Sovkomflot — as well as deliveries of fishing and other specialized ships,” Putin told a meeting of government and industry officials in Vladivostok, according to a transcript posted on the government web site.

He also oversaw the signing of six shipbuilding contracts, the government said in a separate statement.

The first infrastructure project, with Singapore’s Yantai Raffles Shipyard, will create a new shipyard to build drilling platforms in Chazhma Bay. The second is with South Korea’s Daewoo to construct a dry dock at the existing Zvezda factory in the nearby town of Bolshoi Kamen to make tankers, including for liquefied natural gas.

Both projects are in the Primorye region.

Vneshekonombank, the state development bank, said in a statement on its web site that it had opened a one-year credit line of up to 1 billion rubles ($33.7 million) to help finance initial work to build the shipyard.

Putin said 75 percent of the $700 million in financing would come from Russian sources, without giving a breakdown for the two projects.

Separately, Gazprom deputy chief Alexander Ananenkov said the company planned to spend $2 billion on four tankers from the shipyard project with Daewoo. The vessels would be for Gazprom’s Shtokman deposit in the Arctic, Ananenkov said, with a planned delivery date of 2015 or 2016.

Gazprom is also planning to order two supply ships for a combined 2 billion rubles, he said.

On Friday, First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov, who is also Gazprom chairman, said the company might push back the launch of the Shtokman development, without giving a time frame. It is currently scheduled to go on line in 2013.

Vladimir Savov, head of research at Otkritie, commended the investments in the region, saying the Far East had been somewhat neglected. With the rapid economic growth in Asia, “Russia needs more presence there,” he said.

Vladivostok is the site of Russia’s second-largest infrastructure development project, after the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The city is preparing to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in 2012.

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