Russia launches icebreaker to boost Arctic oilfield
Putin launched an oil tanker capable of slicing through over a metre of ice, bringing Russia.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin launched an oil tanker on Friday capable of slicing through over a metre of ice, bringing Russia a step toward its decade-long ambition to launch its first offshore oilfield in the Arctic.
State-run Gazprom has delayed the launch of its Prirazlomnoye oilfield for nearly 10 years as it persists with domestic firms to equip the project, helping Russia develop the technical know-how to conquer other Arctic mineral riches.
The 260-metre-long 'Kirill Lavrov' was launched at the Admiralty Shipyards in St Petersburg, Putin's home city.
"A year ago I saw anxious eyes of shipbuilders as they started work. It was a professional challenge," Putin was quoted as saying on the government's website, www.government.ru. Foreign reporters are not allowed to visit the shipyards.
"It is amazing that such a giant was built in such a short period of time," Putin told shipbuilders.
Russia, along with other countries bordering the Arctic, wants to assert its claims to the region's potentially huge mineral riches and is seeking to develop the relevant technology and fleet to develop lucrative deposits.
The 'Kirill Lavrov', named after a popular Soviet actor renowned for playing the role of Vladimir Lenin, can break ice 1.2 metres thick when moving astern at a speed of three knots. It can reach a speed of 16 knots moving forward in open waters.
Russia's maritime shipping firm Sovkomflot, which features in the government list of firms due for partial privatisation in 2010, has ordered both tankers from Admiralty Shipyards after buying a similar tanker from Samsung Heavy Industries.
Russia is seeking to modernise its own shipbuilding industry as part of a drive to develop non-oil sectors of the economy. Putin said that, thanks to such orders, the industry grew by 74 percent year-on-year in January-September 2009.
Russia has merged most of its shipbuilders into the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), chaired by influential Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin. Putin said USC should also produce more vessels for the Russian navy.
Reuters Last Mod: 19 Aralık 2009, 11:40