Russia’s energy and industry minister calls for revival of shipping industry

Russia’s minister of industry and energy Viktor Khristenko has said Russia should be regarded not only as an energy supplier but also as a major maritime power. His plan is to boost the quality of the country's shipping infrastructure.

According to Mr Khristenko, the improvement of Russia's shipping infrastructure helps to develop offshore mineral deposits.

Russia lost its leading position in shipping with the passing of the Soviet Union, when it had up to 200 companies in the industry.

Since then, its share of global shipbuilding has slipped to only 2%.

Plans for a revival were driven by a lack of capacity and the desire to give Russian companies priority in the development of offshore mineral deposits.

Russia’s Minister of Industry and Energy believes the first step should be to upgrade shipping and infrastructure.

“We need to upgrade the infrastructure and equipment to develop the offshore mineral fields. The target is to help Russian companies fully participate in offshore development,” said Viktor Khristenko.

In order to achieve that goal, the government has already drawn up measures to boost the sector, including subsidies on bank credits and joint financing of investment projects.

Two of Russian biggest monopolies in the gas and oil sector, Gazprom and Rosneft, respectively, are the leaders in developing Russia’s offshore fields.

However, even they have to use ships and port facilities produced by Japan and Korea.

Nevertheless, analysts said Russia has the potential to compete on quality and price.

Mr Khristenko added the government plans to invest almost $US 9 BLN in upgrading the shipbuilding industry and building docks to maintain ships on the Caspian and Black Sea.