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VLADIVOSTOK, August 30 (Itar-Tass) - President Vladimir Putin will begin his three-day working tour of Vladivostok with a conference on prospects for the development of civil shipbuilding in the Far East.
A principled decision on the establishment of a new shipbuilding complex in the city of Bolshoi Kamen on the basis of the Zvezda (star) shipyard for the construction of ships for the industry was taken several years ago.
According to the original project the first tanker was to be launched towards the end of this year. However, at present, construction is 14 months behind the schedule. In view of that, Vice-Premier Dmitry Rogozin had to assume personal control over the matter and monitor it in a "manual operation" mode.
Following a series of keen disputes among the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) and the leading Russian investors (among them Rosneft, Gazprom, NOVATEK, and Sovcomflot), the future of the mega shipyard Zvezda was almost decided upon.
On August 19, Rogozin held a special conference in Bolshoi Kamen, with all the sides concerned invited. As a result of the meeting, a proposal made by Rosneft and Gazprombank to set up a consortium for building the supershipyard Zvezda was adopted. The Ministry and the USC agreed to the proposal.
Rogozin said, "A final shape of all arrangements will be now found". "If we speak of forming a consortium in a broad sense of the word, it is essential to determine USC's share in the prospective consortium", the Vice-Premier said. He specified the options: either the USC turns the entire Far Eastern shipbuilding center, with the exception of two to three entetprises which are preoccupied with the defence order, over to the consortium, or the corporation retains its presence in the consortium. But still it will be necesary to determine its share -- a blocking stake or a 20 percent share. Rogozin said if a decision would be made on a buying-out of assets by the consortium, matters concerning a final price must be fixed within the next one-and-a-half week. The Vice-Premier said, "This price is already coming into view" and the resources will be invested in the construction of the enterprise proper.
Rogozin informed the President of such an option for deciding the future of the Zvezda shipyard.
According to Rosneft proposal, the shipyard in Bolshoi Kamen is the only possible site for the establishment of such a shipbuilding cluster. It must be based on the enterprises of the Far Eastern center for shipbuilding and shiprepair.
Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin added that it would not be bad to add Shiprepairig Plant 30 to the cluster. In the process, in his view, non-essential assets must be kept intact in the USC structure.
As far as the distribution of roles in a future consortium of investors is concerned, the petroleum company could join the consortium as the main customer and Gazprombank as a strategic partner. Besides, Vice-Premier Rogozin did not rule it out that shipbuilders from South Korea or China could be invited as a strategic partner. During his visit to Harbin, the Chinese side already expressed interest in that. Rogozin's working tour of South Korean enterprises is slated for September.