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  • 2016 March 9

    Nikolai Zharkov: “We are ready to take part in all programmes aimed at revival of the Russian fleet”

    The past year was quite busy for Krasnoye Sormovo shipyard (Nizhny Novgorod): launching of tankers, construction of a dredger, signing of new contracts.  In his interview with IAA PortNews, Nikolai Zharkov, Director General of the company, tells about the shipyard’s work in 2015 and its plans for 2016. 

    - Mr. Zharkov, can you say the past year was a success for the shipyard? What are the production and financial results? 

    - Last year saw the fulfillment of all agreements and contracts that let us increase the revenues and the profit of the company. In the sector of civil shipbuilding we built and delivered to the customers three tankers of Project RST-27 including chemical carrier Victoria. It is a project upgraded for transportation of a wide range of cargoes including additional line of methanol products. Production in the field of special machine building for Sevmash, Admiralty Shipyards, Zvezdochka, Amur Shipyard and Rubin bureau almost reached RUB 3 bln. Besides, our products and services in the sector of metallurgical production (steel casting, non-ferrous casting, production of forged and stamped parts, all types of heat treatment) are still in high demand which also has a positive impact on the shipyard’s financial results. So, diversification of production activities allows for sustainable development.

    -  What is your personal opinion about the state support of domestic shipbuilding?

    Through the federal targeted programmes Krasnoye Sormovo can successfully meet the challenge of modernization and technical re-equipping of its facilities. It is quite sufficient for production development. The Government is currently elaborating measures to support the industry. Like many other specialists in shipbuilding, I believe the following measures will affect positively all market players: subsidizing of domestic transport companies through partial reimbursement of the interest on loans and lease agreements, establishment of special economic zones with advantageous tax and customs regimes, restrictions on using obsolete fleet and introduction of grants for utilization of vessels.

    - How is modernization going on? What new technologies have been introduced at the shipyard?

    - In 2012, we completed modernization of hull production facilities through installation of equipment manufactured by world’s leaders companies. In terms of hull production equipment we are actually ahead of other shipyards in Russia.

    In 2015 we paid special attention to machine building facilities. Through a federal targeted programme we purchased the equipment worth over a hundred million rubles. When put into operation, it will considerably improve the quality and capabilities on production of marine engineering equipment.

    - What is the mechanism of your cooperation with leasing companies?

    - Quite often we sign trilateral contracts between the shipyard, a customer and leasing company. In 2013 MNP Group signed such agreements for construction of 10 vessels, in 2014 and in 2015 – for 4 vessels each. Under the contract, the newbuild is delivered to the leasing company while the leasing terms are regulated by the agreement between a ship owner and a leasing company.

    - Have the sanctions had an impact on the shipyard activities?

    - Hardly any. This is because we specialize in building civil ships. Our major suppliers consider Russia as a promising market and they are not inclined to sacrifice their business for the politics. At same time we have been intensely developing our relationship with domestic manufacturer that have a lot to offer. Almost all vessels build in 2012-2016 are equipped with products manufactured by domestic companies like Valcom and Transas. Some components are produced in-house at Krasnoye Sormovo. I expect the share of Russian equipment to grow in shipbuilding. We have several proposals on purchasing domestic products which are as good as foreign ones in terms of prices and quality.

    - What are your foreign partners? 

    - First of all, they are reliable suppliers from Finland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands. The quality of their equipment is time-proved and is appreciated by our customers. We have different suppliers for different projects. For example, dredging equipment for TSHD1000 is supplied by Damen, designer of those vessels. We also cooperate with many shipping companies in Russia and worldwide. Vessels built by Krasnoye Sormovo sail under the flags of Azerbaijan, Norway, Kazakhstan, Italy, Turkey, Iran, etc. Russia is not in the end of this list, our major customers today are Russian shipping companies.

    - What are they?

    In 2014-2015 we were building vessels for P.TransCo LLC, Moscow River Shipping Company, Kurgannefteproduct LLC, ISR Trans Group, BF Tanker LLC and dredgers for Rosmorport. P.TransCo LLC received the dry cargo barge of Project 82, other customers got tankers of Project RST27. ISR Trans Group ordered and took the delivery of chemical carrier of improved Project RST27. In January we launched the lead ship of Project TSHD1000, Sommers. It will be delivered to Rosmorport in June.

    - What are the specific features of the chemical carrier of improved Project RST27? 

    - Krasnoye Sormovo  started building chemical tankers four years ago. Previously we were only building tankers for crude and oil products. Two chemical tankers of Project RST 27, VF Tanker 9 and Konstruktor Zhivotovsky, were delivered to the customer in 2012 and 2013 accordingly. Both tankers were designed to carry, apart from oil products, vegetable oil, which considerably contributed to their competitiveness. In 2015 we moved further on. According to the customer’s request Project RST27 was revised and now it can carry not only oil products and vegetable oil but also spirits, ethers, acetone, glycerol, toluene. New functions required introduction of sophisticated technological solutions into the tanker’s cargo system. The amendments allowed for improvement of the class to КМ (*) Ice1 R2 AUT1-ICS OMBO VCS ECO-S Oil tanker / Chemical tanker type 2 (vegetable oil) (ESP). The demand was immediately proved by new orders.

    - Which solutions of TSHD1000 series designers are new for Russia?

    - Dredging vessels of Project TSHD1000 are intended for operation in seaports and at navigation channels. They will dredge while moving, collect dredged material and discharge it either in the sea or to the shore. Earlier, Russia did not have vessels of such configuration (trailing suction hopper dredger with bottom doors, pumping and grabbing capabilities). The vessel was designed by Damen (Netherlands), global leader in designing and building of dredging vessels. General shipboard equipment is delivered by Russian companies. Valcom LLC has developed and supplied the system to manage the technical facilities with a sensor payload including controllers of in-house design. Our task is not only to build three vessels for Rosmorport but also obtain a precious experience in construction of state-of-the-art dredging ships which will let us continue the series.

    - Your customers and partners usually call you a man of his word. How do you encourage your personnel to meet deadline? 

    - The main task that faces me and the shipyard personnel is to fulfill our obligations. We are all on an equal footing. Therefore, key motivation for anyone should be responsibility, quality and compliance with schedule. All of us understand that this will result in new orders, good wages and stable operation of the shipyard. This has been the foundation of the shipyard from the moment it was set up. With such people, many of whom represent the dynasties of shipbuilders, we will be able to keep our leading position among domestic shipyards.

    - What is to be built in 2016-2017?

    Construction of two more dredgers for Rosmorport is in full swing, two tankers are under construction for BF Tanker, two chemical tankers will be built for Volgotrans LLC. MNP Group secured contracts for construction of the tankers last autumn. The ships are to be delivered to the customers in 2016 – early 2017.

    - Which types of vessels are the most promising in your opinion?

    - Our main niche is construction of vessels of mixed sea-river navigation. Renovation of domestic fleet, which is inevitable, will lead to further growth of the demand for our vessels, we hope. We can offer our potential clients the entire range of vessels – tankers, dry cargo carriers, engineering ships, etc.

    All projects built by Krasnoye Sormovo  over the last decade are in demand. Nevertheless, the most popular ones are tankers of Projects RST27 and 19900, dry cargo ships of Project RSD49. Besides, LNG/LPG carriers, cruise ships and emergency rescue vessels are among the prospects of the shipyard. Design bureau Vympel, based in the same region as we are, has some advanced projects and we could join our hands to offer the customers with new hi-tech projects. We are open for new orders and any market requirements.

    - Do you mean that Krasnoye Sormovo facilities allow for production of a wider range of vessels including passenger ships that are widely discussed today?  

    - Certainly. Our capabilities are much wider. As of today, the shipyard can build up to 10 vessels per year. It can built vessels fully complying with current market requirements. I would say that we can build:

    - combination carriers  to transport oil products one way and loose/general/containerized cargo on their way back;

    - shallow-draft ships of sufficient capacity for operation at Volga and Don tributaries and at Siberian rivers;

    - supply ships to support oil production projects in the Caspian and Black Sea basins;

    - passenger cruise fleet (which is currently represented by ships built in the 70-ies – 80-ies of the previous century);

    - fishing fleet.

    It is time for our motherland to regain the status of a great maritime power and we are ready to take part in all programmes aimed at revival of the Russian fleet.

    Interviewed by Nadezhda Malysheva and Margarita Babkova.