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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Shipyards to Focus on Energy Vessels

APShipyard chief Vladimir Alexandrov, right, Putin and Sovkomflot's Sergei Frank at Admiralteiskiye Verfi yard Tuesday.
ST. PETERSBURG — Prime Minister Vladimir Putin urged his government on Tuesday to give Russia a modern fleet of ships for its flourishing energy sector and named his close ally, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, to manage the multibillion-dollar project.

"The principal direction is the creation of a complete line of ships and equipment to extract and transport oil and gas from offshore deposits," Putin told a meeting of top officials in his hometown of St. Petersburg.

"This includes drilling platforms, ice-class gas carriers and icebreakers," he added.

Putin stepped down as president last week after presiding over eight years of economic growth to head the government of his successor and ally, Dmitry Medvedev. He is expected, however, to maintain much of his real powers, including a grip on economic policy.

The St. Petersburg meeting, called to discuss the revival of national shipbuilding, became the first major event attended by top ministers of Putin's new Cabinet formed Monday.

"In the past 10, years only 6 percent of ships ordered by Russian owners have been built at national docks," Putin told the meeting.

Shipbuilding is a sector where Russia is seen as competitive and is viewed by the Kremlin as a potential engine for economic diversification.

As president, Putin launched a federal program worth 136 billion rubles ($5.71 billion) aimed at reviving the sector, which has been steadily declining since the fall of the Soviet Union. The program is managed by a newly created state shipbuilding corporation.

Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who attended the meeting, said 90 billion rubles ($3.78 billion) will be allocated from the federal budget and urged private companies to take part.

"We will start from western Russia," Ivanov told reporters. "Priorities have been decided — this is maritime equipment for sea shelf deposits ... We have enough money."

Ivanov, who was one of the architects of the shipbuilding state corporation, said Sechin had been appointed to head it. In the new government, Sechin will oversee the industrial sector.

Industry and Trade Minister Viktor Khristenko said private companies were lining up to participate in the initiative.

He said a plan to build new dockyards in the area has been proposed by Bank Rossiya, controlled by Yury Kovalchuk, a businessman tipped to be close to Putin.

Khristenko said that in the Far East, where lucrative gas deposits are being developed around Sakhalin Island, South Korean shipbuilders could have a role in building a new shipyard.

n St. Petersburg's Admiralteiskiye Verfi shipyard will deliver the first oil tanker for Gazprom's Prirazlomnoye offshore field by November, an official said Tuesday, as the world's biggest gas producer develops a fleet to transport energy resources in the Arctic, Bloomberg reported.

The ice-class tanker, the Mikhail Ulyanov, has a deadweight of 70,000 tons and will be ready by November, said Andrei Veselov, the chief of ship construction at Admiralteiskiye Verfi.