Norilsk Nickel may be leader in environmental activity – official

NORILSK, Krasnoyarsk Territory, August 29 (Itar-Tass) — Norilsk Nickel OJSC can become the leader in the environmental activity shortly, head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources (Rosprirodnadzor) Vladimir Kirillov said on Monday.

An agreement on environmental cooperation is effective between the federal service and the mining and metallurgical company. “Every three months the Russian government is preparing a report on the implementation of this agreement to monitoring the environment and emissions. We are guided by the data that the company gives us. The data is objective,” the Rosprirodnadzor head said.

In the past five years the company has reduced the emissions of harmful substances by more than 100,000 tonnes. This is the record for Russian enterprises. At present, Nornickel is carrying out three key projects, which will improve the environmental situation in Norilsk. In particular, the company reduces sulphur dioxide emissions and controls water surface, and creates facilities for sulphur storage. Over 300 gas treating facilities operate in the Norilsk industrial area. In the past three years the Norilsk Nickel Polar Division provided over 38 billion roubles for the environmental protection in the area.

According to director of the Norilsk Nickel Polar Division Yevgeny Muravyov, “the company will surprise officials by its environmental programmes in the nearest three years.” “By 2015 we are planning to reduce emissions by four times and improve the environmental situation in Norilsk and the adjacent territory,” he said.

Kirillov noted that Norilsk Nickel “has all chances to become the leader in the environmental activity in Russia shortly”.

The Norilsk Nickel Group is the world’s largest nickel and palladium producer and one of the largest producers of platinum and copper. The company originated in Russia more than 70 years ago and now has operations in Russia, Finland, Botswana, South Africa and Australia.

Norilsk Nickel Australia’s vision is to be a competitive, global, integrated nickel business delivering sustainable growth to all stakeholders.


.Russia’s official unemployment over 14 days drops 1 %.

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MOSCOW, August 29 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia’s official unemployment from August 10 to 24, 2011 dropped by 1.2 percent and amounted to 1.346 million people, the Russian Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development reported on Monday.

“Over the period under review, the number of jobless citizens dropped in 72 regions of Russia,” the ministry’s spokesman said. “The maximum drop was recorded in the republics of Noth Ossetia-Alania and Sakha (Yakutia), the Kurgan Region and the Karachai Cherkessia Republic.”

As of the beginning of October 2008, the total number of dismissed workers amounted to about 1.8 million. More than 500,000 of them were placed in jobs.

Over the past two weeks, the number of workers who had idle time through the fault of the administration and worked not full time, as well as workers staying on leaves on the initiative of the administration amounted to 223,200 people.


.Prince Trubetskoy to be elected in Svyazinvest’s board of directors.

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MOSCOW, August 29 (Itar-Tass) — Prince Alexander Trubetskoy, a descendant of Russian immigrants, will be elected to the board of directors of Svyazinvest at its extraordinary meeting on September 22, according to a statement issued by Russia’s largest telecommunications holding on Monday.

The absentee voting meeting put nine persons, including the French citizen, Prince Alexander Trubetskoy, who co-chairs Trading France company, on the list of candidates for a new board of directors.

Svyazinvest spokesman Igor Pshenichnikov told Itar-Tass that Prince Trubetskoy “is a famous figure of the Russian Diaspora who made a significant contribution to the development of trade and economic relations between Russia and France and takes active efforts to boost cultural cooperation between the two countries.”

The spokesman noted that Prince Trubetskoy has broad ties in business circles of Europe and Russia. He was an active participant of large-scale international projects, including those in the telecommunications sector.


.Georgia not against Russia’s WTO membership – minister.

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PARIS, August 29 (Itar-Tass) — Georgia “is absolutely not against Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organisation,” Georgian Economics Minister Vera Kobalia told the French La Tribune financial newspaper.

“It is fully possible to reach an agreement at bilateral Georgian-Russian negotiations in Switzerland,” she stressed. “Russia’s WTO membership will be even advantageous for Georgia,” the minister added, meaning the settlement of other problems existing in relations between the two countries.

Talks between Russian and Georgian delegations on Russia’s WTO membership will be held in Switzerland on September 12 with the mediation of the Swiss Foreign Ministry. According to preliminary information, the sides will discuss a package agreement on the removal of obstacles from Georgia for Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organisation.

“However, like any other country joining that organisation, Russia will be obliged in the future to observe its rules and norms,” she continued, adding that this means “customs control recognized at the international level, in particular by the European Union and the USA, must be ensured on the Georgian-Russian border”.

“These are economic demands, by no means political. Goods carried across the border must be controlled, like this is done, for example, on the border between Finland and Russia,” the Georgian economics minister stressed.


.Russia’s active labour market programs prove efficient – Zhukov.

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KALININGRAD, August 29 (Itar-Tass) — Active labour market programs introduced in Russia in the wake of the global financial and economic crisis proved their efficiency, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov said on Monday.

“Over 95 percent of those who received subsidies to start their own business effectively develop their business and continue to employ new workers,” he said visiting an exhibition of individual entrepreneurs in Russia’s westernmost city of Kaliningrad.

Residents of Kaliningrad got subsidies to start their businesses in 2010. They mainly opened bakeries, dairy product plants, sewing rooms and souvenir shops.


.Belarus not give up loan from Sberbank – premier.

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MINSK, August 29 (Itar-Tass) — Belarus does not give up a loan from Sberbank at the sum of two billion U.S. dollars, Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich told journalists.

New proposals on new terms are being discussed now, the Belarusian prime minister said on Monday.

“Now we are working on changing the terms, including on its early repayment. We believe that this loan can be received based on export contracts,” the prime minister said.

Commenting on if Belarus agrees to provide the loan on the security of 35 percent of Belaruskaliy’s stock, Myasnikovich said, “Russia insists on this.”

Earlier, Belaruskaliy Director-General Valery Kiriyenko said he did not rule that Belarus would give up the loan of three billion U.S. dollars on the terms of Russia’s Sberbank and Deutsche Bank.

“Our government will disagree with Russia’s terms,” he said.

In June, Sberbank’s CEO German Gref said one of Russia’ s biggest banks might become a consultant to the Belarusian government in privatization deals.

“We are in close contact with the Belarusian government and we hope we will be chosen as one of the government’s consultants in privatization deals,” Gref told journalists.

Moreover, he did not rule out that his bank might issue loans to Russian companies interested in buying Belarusian assets. Thus, among such companies the Sberbank CEO listed the company owned by tycoon Suleiman Kerimov, who is interested in buying the Belaruskaliy potash company. It will happen, he said, “if the sides agree on the price.”

In the mean time, president of Troika Dialog investment company Ruben Vartanyan noted a gap between expectations of the seller and buyers’ interests. When asked to comment whether the Belarusian side fairly evaluates this asset, he said, “A strategic enterprise is on sale, and its current price is accompanied by future environment and infrastructure liabilities, and it means that the price includes not only the current but also the future payment.” In his opinion, the price might be reduced after negotiations.

“The enterprise will be evaluated and only with the evaluation done we can speak about real price,” Gref concluded.


.Iran rejects Gazprom Neft participation in developing Azar field.

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TEHRAN, August 29 (Itar-Tass) — Iran has rejected Gazprom Neft’s participation in developing the Azar oil field on the border with Iraq, Mehr News Agency quoted a representative of the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum as saying on Monday.

According to Hamid Karimi, instead of the Russian company a consortium, which is created by a group of Iranian firms, will develop the Azar field.

A decision to this effect was taken due to the delay in implementing the project, Karimi said.

Iran is the second oil exporting country within OPEC and the fourth world oil producer.

Last week, the Iranian government said it was puzzled by the fact that the Russian company Gazprom Neft, which was an outlet of the natural gas giant Gazprom, had not yet signed an agreement on developing the Azar oilfield.

He said the drafting of an agreement on developing that oilfield had taken two years and the document was mentioned at the talks that the Russian Minister of Energy, Sergei Shmatko, had with the Iranian oil minister.

“Alas, Gazprom Neft refrains from signing the document for eight months already,” Sajadi said.

He recalled that 40 percent of the area covering the oilfield is located in Iran and the other 60 percent in Iraq.

“It looks like Gazprom Neft is much more interested in operations on the Iraqi territory,” Sajadi said.

The Azar oilfield is located in Iran’s south-western province of Ilam. It was discovered in 2005 and prospected by the Norwegian corporation Norsk Hydro.

According to the assessments provided by the Russian corporation LUKOIL, Azar contains two billion barrels of crude.

Gazprom Neft and the Iranian National Company signed a memorandum of mutual understanding on the project in November 2009.


.Official unemployment rate in N-West Russia tops country’s average level.

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KALININGRAD, August 29 (Itar-Tass) —— The officially registered unemployment rate in 22 single-industry settlements of the Northwest Federal district exceeds Russia’s average level, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov told a meeting devoted to the monitoring of the situation on the labour market.

In his words, the official unemployment rate in four mono-cities of the federal district is two times more than the national level.

“The biggest unemployment rate was registered in the following mono-industry cities: the town of Onega and Yasny settlement of the Arkhangelsk region, the Kondopoga and Pudozh towns of the Republic of Karelia,” the deputy prime minister said on Monday.

“It is necessary to work out additional measures for the creation of new jobs in the municipalities with the high tension on the labour market,” including the aforesaid ones, Zhukov stressed.

However, the deputy prime minister pointed to a certain stabilisation of the situation on the labour market in the biggest part of the Russian mono-cities.

In all, the officially registered unemployment rate decreased from 12,000 people in January 2011, to 9,800 people in July.


.Argun-based ChechenAvto plant manufactures first AVTOVAZ’ Prioras.

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GROZNY, August 29 (Itar-Tass) —— The Argun-based plant ChechenAvto has produced the first batch of the most popular AVTOVAZ-designed model – LADA Priora (VAZ-217030) cars, the press service of the leader and the government of the Republic of Chechnya said.

In the words of the plant’s Director General, Aindi Kuzumov, the final decision pertaining to the assembling of Prioras at the plant was made during a meeting between Chechen Minister of Industry and Energy Galas Taimaskhanov and AVTOVAZ President Igor Komarov, the press service said.

According to the press service, the talks on the manufacturing of LADA Prioras had been being held since 2008 and were fully complete during the meeting of the minister and the company’s CEO a few months ago, as a result of which ChechenAvto received car parts for the assembling.

In Kuzumov’s words, the Argun-based plant will start commercial production of this AVTOVAZ models in September. The plant is expected to produce up to 400 Piora cars before the end of the year. The Republic of Chechnya was included in the AVTOVAZ development strategy, he said, adding that the plant should manufacture about 50,000 LADA Prioras before 2016.

The region creates favourable conditions for the efficient activity of the official dealer centre to intensify the republican car-manufacturing sector. The centre will promote cars of the company to the market of the North Caucasus Federal District.

Implementation of the program will make it possible to create about 10,000 new jobs and became groundwork for the growth of high-tech competitive enterprises in the republic.

The car-assembling facility ChechenAvto was established on the basis of former Pishchemash plant in Argun. In 2008-2009, ChechenAvto produced about 1,500 cars of VAZ-2107 model.

AVTOVAZ is Russia’s major car manufacturer, also known as VAZ, Volzhsky Auto Plant, and better known to the world as LADA, was set up in the late 1960s in collaboration with Italy’s Fiat. It is 25 percent owned by French giant Renault.

It produces nearly one million cars a year, including the Kalina, LADA110 and the NIVA off-road vehicles.

However, the original Fiat-24-based vehicle, the VAZ-2102 and its derivatives, remain the models most associated with its LADA brand.

The VAZ factory is one of the biggest in the world, with over 144 kilometres of production lines, and is unique in that most of the components for the cars are made in-house.

The original LADA was a basic car, lacking in most luxuries expected in cars of its time and was patterned after the Fiat 124. LADAs were available in several Western countries during the 1970s and 1980s, including Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, though trade sanctions banned their export to the United States. Sales to Italy were forbidden by the agreement between the Soviet government and Fiat, to protect Fiat from cheap imports in its home market.


.Kyrgyzstan becomes EDB member, paying $100,000 into authorised capital.

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ALMATY, August 29 (Itar-Tass) —— Kyrgyzstan has paid its contribution worth 100,000 into the authorised capital of the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB), the media centre of the bank said on Monday.

“Therefore, the country completed appropriate formalities, linked with the accession into the EDB and became the sixth fully-fledged member of the bank,” the media centre in its statement.

Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan and Belarus are member countries of the Eurasian Development Bank.

According to the statement, Kyrgyzstan officially joined the Agreement on the establishment of the Eurasian Development Bank in October 2010.

In June 2011, participants in the EDB Council’s meeting unanimously adopted Kyrgyzstan’s accession to the bank, the media centre reaffirmed.

“Kyrgyzstan’s accession to the bank will be economically efficient for both the republic and other member states of the EDB,” the media centre said, citing Chairman of the EDB Board Igor Finogenov as saying.

“While receiving an access to the Bank’s resources and its experience in the implementation of projects in other member states, the country will be able to start fulfilling large-scale investment projects aimed at the increase of its economic stability and diversification of its economy,” he said.

“Currently, EDB considers the possibility of its participation in the implementation of several large-scale projects of the republican importance aiming at the sustainable development of its economy, and having a weighty significance for the boosting of economic integration between the Bank’s member countries,” Finogenov said.

Proceeding from the constituent documents of the bank, EDB is open for the accession of countries and international organisations, which can become its participants under a decision of the EDB Council after their (countries and organisations) joining the Agreement on the EDB establishment and payment of a joining fee.

Now, the Eurasian Development Bank and Kyrgyzstan should sign an agreement on the conditions of the bank’s presence in the country, which will determine the bank’s immunities and privileges as an international financial organisation.

Such an agreement will allow EDB to open its office in Bishkek, as well as to start an active development of investment projects in the republic.

The Eurasian Development Bank is an international financial organisation that was instituted by Russia and Kazakhstan in January 2006.

The bank is headquartered in Almaty and has its branch in St. Petersburg.

The bank was established in order to promote the development of market economy in the member countries, their sustainable economic growth and enhancement of trade and economic contacts between them.

The bank should become one of the key financial instruments in Eurasia and an effective mechanism for the development of cooperation between its member countries in order to enhance integration processes and level up the social and economic development in the EurAsEC member states.

The Eurasian Development Bank’s chartered capital exceeds 1.5 billion U.S. dollars.

The bank is interested in the increase of its members as a way to expand EDB investment projects, which meets the EDB’s strategic tasks.

The EDB investment portfolio (which is one of the major indicators of the bank’s activity) almost neared 2,208.8 million U.S. dollars by the end of 2010.

As of January 1, 2011, the total assets of the Eurasian Development Bank were estimated at 2,552.593 million U.S. dollars, while the total amount of loans granted to the bank’s clients was at 820.953 million U.S. dollars.


.St Petersburg plant’s Kia Rio sedan to be exported to CIS countries.

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ST. PETERSBURG, August 29 (Itar-Tass) —— A new model of Kia Rio, which is produced by St. Petersburg-based Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Rus’s plant and which was specifically designed by South Korean specialists for Russia’s market, will be exported to the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Chairman of the City Government’s Committee on Investments and Strategic Projects Alexei Chichkanov told reporters.

In his words, the plant plans to supply about 1,000 Rio sedans to the CIS member countries.

The production of the new model at the plant was launched on August 15, 2011, he reminded to the reporters, adding that the company plants to manufacture 20,000 Kia Rio cars before the yearend.

Earlier, the Hyundai Motors company organised export supplies of Solaris cars to Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, Chichkanov said.

“This is the first St. Petersburg-located carmaker, who exports its cars abroad the Customs Union countries,” the city’s government official stressed.

Hyundai started construction of the plant in St. Petersburg in June 2008. The total investments are planned at 500 million euros. In 2011, the plant launched commercial production of the first model of its cars. It was Hyundai Solaris sedan, which was specifically designed for the Russian market.

Later, the company started manufacturing of Hyundai Solaris cars in the hatchback version.

Starting from August 15, the plant launched assembling of its third model – Kia Rio cars.

The company plans to produce 20,000 cars of this model before the yearend, as well about 100,000 cars in 2012, the press service said earlier.

The company’s representatives are confident that Kia Rio will become the leader of Russia’s car market owing to the model’s surpassing design ideas, excellent technical indicators and attractive cost.

Now, Kia is Russia’s second-best selling foreign car brand after Chevrolet. The Kia Rio and Cee’d are both in the top 25 sellers in Russia — at 12th and 13th position respectively — with total sales of 24,800 and 22,000 cars respectively since the beginning of the year. The Kia Sportage crossover retains its leadership as the top-selling crossover in Russia, the company’s press service reaffirmed.


.Lack of mutually beneficial agts behind halt to Gazprom Neft’s project in Iran.

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MOSCOW, August 29 (Itar-Tass) —— Gazprom Neft blamed the suspension of its participation in the development of the Azar oilfield in Iran on the absence of “mutually advantageous agreements” with Iran.

“In keeping with its obligations, Gazprom Neft has drafted a general plan for the development of the field and conducted negotiations on the terms of the contract. The sides have not been able to reach a mutually advantageous agreement so far. Gazprom Neft has received no answer regarding a possible alteration of the terms proposed by the Iranian side,” the Russian company told Itar-Tass on Monday, August 29.

Earlier in the day, the National Iranian Oil Company announced a halt to Gazprom Neft’s participation in the development of the Azar oilfield.

According to the Mehr news agency, the decision was prompted by “a long delay in the implementation of the project”.

It said a contract for the development of the oilfield in the party of Iran on the border with Iraq would be signed with a consortium of several Iranian contractors.

Last week, Mahmoud Reza Saijadi, Iran’s ambassador to Moscow criticised Gazprom Neft for a “delay” in developing the Azar oilfield.

“We were drafting the contract for the development of this oilfield for two years. It was mentioned during a meeting between Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and the Iranian Minister of Petroleum. But, alas, Gazprom Neft has been stalling the signing of the document for eight months,” the minister said.

He said Gazprom Neft has delayed the development of the Azar oilfield for nearly two years since signing a tentative agreement with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC)in November 2009.

According to the Moscow Times, last March, Gazprom Neft head of Iraq’s Badra project, Alexander Kolomatsky, had mentioned that data from Iran helped the company evaluate Badra’s potential. Gazprom Neft raised its estimate of Badra’s reserves more than twofold to 3 billion barrels thanks to its involvement in Iran, he added.

The company believes that Iran’s Azar field and Badra in neighbouring Iraq are part of the same underground oil reserve.

“After several ultimatums and delays by Russia’s Gazprom, this big global gas production company has been dropped from the development plan of the Azar joint oil field,” the NIOC said in a statement on Monday, August 29.

According to the statement, the NIOC plans to sign an agreement for the development of Azar field — with a proven 2 billion barrels of oil reserves — with a consortium of Iranian companies, Mehr News Agency reported.

Director of the project Hamid Karimi said on Monday that Gazprom had been excluded from negotiations on the development of the Azar oilfield six months ago.

The Mehr News Agency also reported earlier that Iran’s Petroleum Engineering and Development Company (PEDCO) and Russia’s Gazprom signed a memorandum of understanding for development of Azar oilfield, west of Iran.

Previously, NIOC was negotiating with Iran’s Oil Industries Engineering and Construction Company (OIEC) for the development of Azar oilfield as a result of Statoilhydro Company’s waver.

Norway’s Norsk Hydro and Lukoil worked together on an exploration contract for the Anaran block’s Azar oilfield located in Iran’s southwestern province of Ilam, and discovered oil there in 2005. The companies later said the field holds 2 billion barrels of oil.

Norway’s Norsk Hydro held 75 percent of the exploration license, while Lukoil held 25 percent.

The Azar field lies in Ilam province at the Anaran block, west of Iran, and its total reserves along with the Iraqi side, which is called Badra, is estimated to be 400 million barrels. Based on the reports the field could produce as much as 50,000-65,000 barrels of oil per day for 25 years.

It was announced earlier that the Azar oilfield development plan would cost around 1.4 billion U.S. dollars and that the early production of 20,000 barrels of crude per day will start by March 2012.


.Gazprom’s profit from gas export to Europe up by 39% Jan-March.

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MOSCOW, August 30 (Itar-Tass) — Gazprom’s net profit from natural gas exports to Europe increased by 39 percent or 112.785 million roubles to 398.533 million roubles in January-March, according to the Russian gas giant’s consolidated financial report for the first three months of the year.

The increase is mainly explained by a 14 percent growth of average accounting prices denominated in roubles (including excise and customs duties), which was intensified by the growth of gas sales in volume terms by 12 percent or by 4.9 billion cubic meters.


.New pork, beef price hikes in Belarus.

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MINSK, August 30 (Itar-Tass) — Meat prices in Belarus have increased for the third time this month. “Sale prices of pork and beef will grow by 10 percent from August 31,” the Ministry of Economy said in a resolution.

Under the document, the maximum release price of beef is 15,089 roubles (2.98 dollars) per kilogram, while 1st and 2nd grade pork prices will go up to 14,548 roubles (2.87 dollars). Third grade pork will sell at 13,583 roubles (2.68 dollars) per kilogram.

The Ministry explained the new price hike by the necessity to “compenstate the higher prices of raw meat, eliminate the imbalance between the prices in the external and domestic markets and meet the demand for meet in the republic’s market.”

In August, Belarus had a 5-percent and 10 percent meat price hikes. Also in August, the Ministry of Economy liberalized prices of semi-finished meat products.

Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food said prices of meat and dairy product would keep growing, as agribusinesses’ costs were increasing.

They also noted that due to price differences, Belarussian dairy products were taken outside of the republic, mostly by Russians. Meanwhile, it is more advantageous for both Belarussian producers and processing companies to supply meat to neighboring countries, in the first place to Russia.


.Moscow to allocate over one trln roubles for special investments.

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MOSCOW, August 30 (Itar-Tass) —— The Moscow city authorities will allocate 1.391 trillion roubles for special investment programme for 2012-2014, a source at the Moscow Mayor’s Office said on Tuesday.

“The city will allocate 443.9 billion roubles in 2012, 460 billion roubles in 2013, and in 2014 – 487.1 billion roubles,” the source said.

In early August, the city authorities adopted a special investment programme for next three years – the major priority is given to construction of metro and to solving transport problems. For example, the city will allocate for construction of metro, development of public transport and for road projects about 300 billion roubles a year. Besides, the Moscow’s budget will finance construction of about 700,000 square metres of new housing, to leave alone real estate built by investors.


.Sakhalin’s road repair budget exceeds 5B roubles 2011 – source.

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YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, August 30 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia’s Sakhalin has spent over five billion roubles for repairing of regional and municipal roads during the current year. The plans for reconstruction and new road construction include almost 20 road objects of over 60 kilometres long.

Sakhalin’s Minister of Transport, Communication and Roads Vladimir Degryarev said that before the yearend the region plans to repair and construct parts of the federal road from Yuzhno-Sakhalins to Okhta /from the south to the north of the island/. The construction of the road crossing the island will continue in 2012, he added. Besides, a road from Yuzhno-Kurilsk to Golovnino /at Kunashir Island/ is planned for 2012.

Asphalt plants opened this summer in the Kuril Islands of Iturup and Kunashir under the federal special programme to develop the islands. The programme used also funds from the regional budget. The mini plant in Kunashir produces up to 400 tonnes of asphalt a shift, and only three specialists are involved in the process there. The necessary amount of bitumen has been shipped, and the other components /gravel and sand/ are produced locally. Over the summer period of 2011, road workers plan to lay in Yuzhno-Kurilsk 4.7 kilometres of asphalt.


.Sakhalin-Khabarovsk-Vladivostok pipeline to be launched Sept 9.

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VLADIVOSTOK, August 30 (Itar-Tass) — The commissioning ceremony of the Sakhalin-Khabarovsk-Vladivostok main gas pipeline will be held in the Ayaks Bay on the Russky Island. Start-up operations and hydraulic testing of the gas pipeline are underway here on Tuesday, the energy, oil and gas complex and coal industry department of the Primorsky Territory told Itar-Tass.

The construction of the pipeline in the Primorsky Territory was started two years ago. A total of 575.7 kilometres of pipes were laid on the territory of 10 municipalities. A gas pipeline branch, part of which is laid on the sea bottom in the Bosfor Vostochny (Eastern Bosphorus) strait was built for supplying gas to facilities of the 2012 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum’ s summit.

Gazprom’s deputy CEO Valery Golubev said earlier that “in the third quarter of this year, two years after (the start of the construction), the more than 1,000-km-long gas trunk line will be commissioned,” Golubev said. “I would like to emphasize that the gas pipeline will start operating already September,” Golubev added. The new gas pipeline will supply gas to Primorye, the Khabarovsk Territories and Sakhalin. It will also supply gas to the Russky Island, where an APEC summit will be held in 2012. In the first years after the commissioning it will supply gas from Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 gas fields. “Starting from 2014, we can say with confidence that gas from the Sakhalin-3 project will become a resource base for supplies to the whole Far East,” the top manager stressed.

The pipeline capacity will be 27.5 billion cubic metres. There is a possibility to increase it. This will be possible thanks to the construction in 2012 of the Yakutia-Khabarovsk-Vladivostok gas pipeline system, through which gas will be delivered from the Chayanda field.

Energy facilities will be the first to transfer to gas. The work on the transfer to gas use of the city’s main power and heat supply facilities – HPP-1, HPP-2 and Severnaya combined heat and power plants is currently in full swing in Vladivostok. Also, facilities of the APEC summit that will be held on the Russky Island in 2012 will be among the first to get the gas service.

According to the project, the 168-km gas pipeline construction to the Wrangel Island will be started in 2012. By 2020 it is planned to install gas services in 502 settlements of the Primorsky Territory. A total of 21 gas distribution stations will be built to this end. The total length of inter-settlement gas pipelines will be about 3.5 thousand kilometres. The gas consumption volume is expected to amount to 15.52 billion cubic metres, including by the population – 0.85 billion cubic metres. Gazprom is expected to spend 7.2 billion roubles on the inter-settlement gas pipelines construction within five years.

In September 2007, the Russian Federation’s Industry and Energy Ministry approved the gas Development Program for Eastern Siberia and the Far East. The pipeline project was approved by Gazprom’s board of directors on 23 July 2008. At the same meeting, Gazprom’s board of directors agreed to purchase a 445-kilometre (277 mi) long first phase of the Sakhalin-Komsomolsk-Khabarovsk pipeline, which had been commissioned In November 2006, from Daltransgaz, a former subsidiary of Rosneft. Design and exploration work was completed by November 2008 and working documentation was prepared by April 2009. Construction was launched on 31 July 2009 in Khabarovsk with a ceremony, which was attended by the Russian Prime minister Vladimir Putin.

The Sakhalin–Khabarovsk–Vladivostok gas transport system will consist of two sections. The Khabarovsk– Vladivostok section is expected to be completed in 2011. Together with the first phase of the Sakhalin-Komsomolsk-Khabarovsk section, supplying gas from the Gazprom’s Far East northern part’s gas fields, it creates a 1,350-kilometre (840 mi) long pipeline system. Afterward, the pipeline would be expanded to Sakhalin. In Khabarovsk, it would be connected also with the proposed Yakutia–Khabarovsk–Vladivostok pipeline.

In The Primorsky Territory, the pipeline will feed a planned LNG plant, which would produce LNG for export to Japan, and a planned petrochemical complex. There are also plans to supply gas from Vladivostok to Japan and South Korea by subsea pipelines.

The capacity of the pipeline will be 8 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year at the first stage. It is expected to cost US$21–24 billion. Originally the pipeline was planned to be fed from the Sakhalin-3 project with additional gas provided from the Sakhalin-2 project. Due to delays of developing the Sakhalin-3, the main supplier for the pipeline will most likely be the ExxonMobil-led Sakhalin-1 project, but no contract has been signed to date. The pipeline project is being developed by Gazprom Invest Vostok, a subsidiary of Gazprom.

The Yakutia–Khabarovsk–Vladivostok pipeline will partly run within an integrated corridor with the second stage of Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline. In Khabarovsk, it will be connected with the Sakhalin-Khabarovsk-Vladivostok pipeline. Together, the pipelines will feed a planned LNG plant, which will produce LNG for the export to Japan, and a planned petrochemical complex in the Primorsky Territory. The pipeline will be feed from the Chayanda oil and gas field in Yakutia. The gas field is expected to be launched in 2016.


.Gazprom’s net profit from gas sales up by 42% Jan-March.

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MOSCOW, August 30 (Itar-Tass) — Gazprom’s net profit from gas sales went up by 42 percent or 257.609 million roubles to 869.969 million roubles in January-March as against the same period of last year, according to the Russian gas giant’s consolidated financial report.

Gazprom explains such an increase by the growth of sales to the former Soviet republics, Europe and other countries, which was intensified by the growth of average prices denominated in roubles (including excise and customs duties).

Over this period the gas monopoly’s net profit from gas exports to Europe went up by 39 percent or 112.785 million roubles to 398.533 million roubles.

Its net profit from gas exports to the countries of the former Soviet Union surged by 119 percent or 11.565 million roubles to 205.394 million roubles.

The company’s net profit from sales in Russia grew by 14 percent or 33.259 million roubles to 266.042 million roubles. This growth is mainly explained by higher gas prices on the domestic market set by the federal tariffs service.


.Moscow to allocate over 2T roubles for development of transport.

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MOSCOW, August 30 (Itar-Tass) —— Over 2012-2016, Moscow will allocate 2.2 trillion roubles for the programme to develop the city transport system, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin told the municipal government on Tuesday.

“It is one of major programmes, which solves the issues of developing transport and its financing is one of the biggest,” he said. “It makes 2.2 trillion roubles, where 1.6 trillion roubles come from the /city/ budget.”

The programme’s priority, he said, is development of public transportation, including improvement of present routes, construction of new metro lines, reconstruction of tram roads, construction of transport hubs, modernisation of the public transport’s fleet and organisation of the city’s parking space.

“The programme is exquisitely complex,” Sobyanin said.


.Ban on preparation of Proton-M with Briz-M upper stage lifted.

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MOSCOW, August 30 (Itar-Tass) — The ban on preparation of Proton-M carriers with Briz-M upper stages is lifted, Russia’s Federal Space Agency /Roskosmos/ said on Tuesday.

The decision followed results of the Inter-Ministerial Commission analysing causes of Proton-M rocket’s abnormal start on August 18 from Baikonur, which had the Briz-M upper stage and Express -AM4 space apparatus.

Roskosmos has prepared necessary recommendations to be used prior to next launches of Proton-M. Earlier, Roskosmos planned to have five launches of these rockets before November 1.


.Ukraine hopes to resolve gas issue at talks with Russia – Azarov.

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KIEV, August 30 (Itar-Tass) — Ukraine hopes to resolve the issue of correcting gas agreements at the talks with Russia, Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov said on Tuesday during his working visit to Kharkov.

“We are set to hold the negotiating process with Russia. I am a supporter of the normal negotiating process on the basis of equality and respect,” he said. “We hope that our partners will hear our rather serious arguments,” the government’s press service quoted him as saying.

The prime minister underlined that reconsideration of gas contracts is needed for equalising Ukraine’s foreign trade balance.

“We have the problem – a negative balance of trade, when the export is lower than the import. First of all, this is imbalance with Russia over the gas price. How can we liquidate it? First of all, we should agree with Russia on reconsideration of gas contracts,” he said.

Azarov also stressed the need for introduction of technologies that allow to reduce imported gas consumption and for the implementation of import substituting programs.

Earlier Ukraine’s authorities announced their intention to seek reconsideration of a gas pricing formula.

“Ukraine’s government is ready to begin litigation with Russia to break gas contracts, as the gas price fixed in them is unfair,” Azarov said.


.Kiev, Ukraine may avoid gas war – Vladimir Litvin.

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KIEV, August 30 (Itar-Tass) —— Ukraine and Russia will be able to avoid a gas war like those they had in the past, parliamentary speaker Vladimir Litvin said on Tuesday.

“There will be no gas war with Russia,” he said at a meeting with chief delegates to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council Europe Eastern Partnership (Euronest).

As the press service of the Parliament of Ukraine has stated, Litvin said that the European factor was having consolidating influence on Ukrainian society. He said that Kiev continued to work actively towards the implementation of the action plan to liberalize the visa regimen with EU countries.

“Our short-term objective is the completion of the first, legislative phase of the plan before the end of the year,” said Litvin. Ukraine will insist the introduction of a visa-free regimen with the EU should be seen “not as a long-term possibility but as an imperative of the day.”


.Lukashenko announces plan to stabilize Belarus currency market.

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MINSK, August 30 (Itar-Tass) —— Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko demands that the National Bank should daily follow the situation on the currency market, intervening in it at times to repulse speculative attacks. He stated this on Tuesday at a conference where he announced the plan to stabilize the country’s currency market.

Lukashenko demanded that the state control committee and law enforcement bodies should place a barrier to speculators who artificially whip up the situation on the currency market. He stressed that in the framework of the plan to stabilize the currency market “all who wish to buy national currency, which people in Minsk crave, will have this opportunity.”

The president also said that all exchange offices at banks, after the opening of the extra session, will be able to sell currency at the market rate.

The Belarusian president said that implementing the plan to establish the uniform rate of the Belarusian rouble, the government hopes that this will not take much time.

Lukashenko also said that if citizens wish to convert their deposits into currency, they must be given this opportunity. At the same time he stressed he does not advise to convert national currency into other currencies. He said the state will support the Belarusian rouble, increasing the profitableness of deposits in national currency. He also instructed the National Bank to create such economic conditions that people should go to banks to make currency deposits.

He said he is ready to consider one-time amnesty of funds. Lukashenko also demanded that there should be no printing money in the country.

.Ukraine to reduce import of Russian gas by a third in years-Azarov.

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KIEV, August 30 (Itar-Tass) —— Ukraine in the coming years will reduce the import of Russian gas by two thirds, Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov said at a meeting with administrative officials and economic managers of the Kharkov Region.

“Over the next few years we shall have to reduce the purchases of Russian gas by 30 percent,” said Azarov.

For Ukraine it is currently cheaper to use coal for heating.

“We remember the time when we were shifting our boilers from coal to gas, and now we have gas for 400 dollars per one thousand cubic meters, and our partners say that it can get more expensive. We have no other choice – we shall have to start using what we have. Once we have set a task to ourselves, we shall cope with it,” said Azarov.

On January 19, 2009 the OJSC Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukrainy signed two contracts: on sales for a period of 2009 – 2019 and on the amount and terms of transit of gas through Ukraine in the same period. The current top leadership of Ukraine has repeatedly spoken of the need for revising the gas agreements with Russia. In particular, Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov argues that the deal with Russia, signed by former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, was “unjust with regard to Ukraine.”

“Ukraine is deprived of all rights under that contract,” he said earlier at a news conference. “I would have never signed such a contract myself.”

In April 2010, Gazprom and Naftogaz agreed a discount on gas for Ukraine – 30 percent off the current price of gas, but not more than 100 dollars for one thousand cubic meters. The discount applies to the shipments of 30 billion cubic meters in 2010 and 40 billion cubic meters in the coming years.

In 2010 Gazprom supplied to Ukraine 36.470 billion cubic meters of gas. Ukraine transited approximately 97.8 billion cubic meters of gas, including 94.6 billion cubic meters to Western Europe.

According to Goskomstat, Ukraine in 2010 increased its natural gas import by 17.7 percent as compared with 2009. The import of natural gas in 2010 in the total import amounted to 15.5 percent. In 2009, Ukraine reduced the import of natural gas by 15.5 percent in contrast to 2008. The volume of natural gas import in 2009 in the total import amounted to 17.6 percent.

In 2010, Ukraine’s own oil and gas companies reduced the production of natural gas by 5.5 percent in contrast to 2009 to 19.1 billion cubic meters.


.Belarus National bank raises refinancing rate by 5 points to 27 percent.

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MINSK, August 30 (Itar-Tass) —— Belarus has increased refinancing rate by five percent points to 27 percent per annum.

“The National Bank of Belarus established the refinancing rate at the level of 27 percent per annum starting from September 1, 2011,” the bank’s board said in a related document published on Tuesday.

Over 2011, this is already the eighth increase of the refinancing rate. The first increase of the index became effective on March 16, before which the refinancing rate amounted to 10.5 percent.

Belarus’ inflation made up 41 percent in January-July 2011.


.Sberbank net profit exceeds RUB 176 bln in January-June 2011.

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MOSCOW, August 30 (Itar-Tass) —— Net profit of Russia’s biggest state-controlled bank – Sberbank (Savings Bank), calculated under the International Accounting Standards (IAS), increased more than thrice in the first six months of the year, as compared to the same period of 2010, and reached 176.1 billion roubles (USD 1 = RUB 28.85), the bank said in a report published on Tuesday.

In the first half of 2010, the indicator amounted to 64.3 billion roubles, the Sberbank’s report said.

In January-June 2011, the total aggregate income of the Sberbank group doubled to make up 166.6 billion roubles. As of June 30, the bank’s assets were estimated at 9.08 trillion roubles.

In the first half of the current year, the overdue debt for the bank’s loans amounted to 6.6 percent, while loan loss provisions were at 9.8 percent of the bank’s credit portfolio, the report wrote.

As of the beginning of the year, the share of “non-performing” loans (delay in payments and servicing of which exceeds 90 days) amounted to 7.3 percent or the Sberbank’s credit portfolio, while provision for impairment was estimated at 11.3 percent or the aggregate credit portfolio, the bank’s official report said.

According to earlier information, the bank’s assets increased by 141 billion roubles in June 2011. Besides, Sberbank granted over 365 billion roubles to Russian corporate clients in the month under review, and more than 2.15 trillion roubles in the first six months of the year.

In June 2011, the bank granted more than 97 billion roubles of loans to private clients, the report wrote, adding that the total sum for private credits reached 490 billion roubles in the first half of the year.

The bank’s investments in securities decreased by 234 billion roubles in June 2011, to stand at 1.463 billion roubles as of July 1, the Sberbank’s report said back then.

In the period under review, the share of public bonds in the bank’s portfolio went down from 63 percent to 54 percent, while the share of corporate bonds shrank from 24 percent to 20 percent as of July 1, 2011.

Besides, the total amount of personal deposits in the bank increased by 113 billion roubles to 5.058 billion roubles, Sberbank said in the report.

In June 2011, Sberbank’s stock increased by 12 billion roubles to make up 1,391 billion roubles, the report said. The bank’s capital has gone up by 12 percent since the beginning of the year. As of July 1, 2011, the capital adequacy ratio reached 18 percent.


.Putin to hold video conf on development of RF motorroad network.

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MOSCOW, August 31 (Itar-Tass) — Russian Head of Government Vladimir Putin will hold a video conference on road construction on Wednesday. Participants in the conference are substantively to discuss matters of current importance concerning the maintenance and development of the Federal motor-road network, as well as the functioning of the roadmaking sector as a whole.

Special attention is to be devoted to the results of accomplishment of respective assignments that were earlier given by Putin in this respect, the government press service reports

During live stand-ups, regional interlocutors are to brief the Prime Minister on the course of building and upgrading of such facilities as section of the St Petersburg-Sortalava motor-road, roundabout roads near Novosibirsk and Nalchik, a bridge over the River Vyatka near the city of Mamadysh, as well as those listed in the programme for the development of rural roads in Volgograd Region.

The Prime Minister is expected to contact participants in the Vladivostok-Kaliningrad motor rally, who are currently in Chita. The motor rally was organized under the auspices of the All-Russia Popular Front. Participants in the motor-rally will tell the Premier how his assignments given a year ago on the development of the Chita-Khabarovsk Federal highway are being carried out.

Vice-Premier Sergei Ivanov, Transport Minister Igor Levitin and Communications Minister Igor Shchyogolev, as well as representatives of other ministries and agencies concnerned, and the chiefs of building companies will take part in the conference.

At present, a government press service official recalled, road making, reconstruction, maintenance and repair of Federl automobile roads of utility type are being carried out under the Federal purpose-oriented programme (FPOP) “The Development of the Transport System of Russia” for a period from 2010 to 2015 (Subprogramme “Automobile Roads”) within the framework of which it is planned to bring into use 208.6 km of automobile roads of Federal jurisdiction, as well as 6,300 metres of highway structures before the end of 2011. An adjusted draft FPOP has been also prepared to provide for putting into use 6,200 km of new roads or reconstructed roads (33,110 km in one-lane terms) within a period ending in 2019.

Apart from a Federal Road Fund, the Federal law, dated April 6, 2011, also envisges the establishment of road funds of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, which will make it possible to double the financing of the road infrastructure in the regions and increase the amount of work on motor-roads of regional jurisdiction.

The organizers of the Vladivostok-Kaliningrad month-long motor rally, which began on August 25, are aiming mainly on creating a system of public control over the condition of Russian roads.

Participants in the motor rally are to ride via such large cities as Khabarovsk, Chita, Ulan Ude, Irkutsk, Kurgan, Chelyabinsk, as well as small populated areas with a view to gainig full and objective picture of current road problems.

Along the route, the motor rally participants are to meet with local auhtorities and activists to discuss the most acute issues that are uppermost in the minds of Russian motorists, such as fuel prices, transport tax rates, Civil Responsibility Insurance, technical inspection procedure, blood alcohol tests, etc. Notwithstanding the tight schedule of movement, participants in the motor rally intend regularly to make entries in their Internet diary, making detailed notes about their journey across Russia.


.Motor rally participants riding about Chita.

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ULAN UDE, August 31 (Itar-Tass) — Participants in the Battered Roads motor-rally along the Vladivostok-Kaliningrad route on Wednesday are riding about Chita. The motor rally has been organized under the auspices of the All-Russia Popular Front.

An official at the Zabaikalye (area beyond Lake Baikal) Territory regional branch of the United Russia party has told Itar-Tass, “They are to meet with local authorities and activists to discuss the most acute issues that are uppermost in the minds of Russian motorists, such as fuel prices, transport tax rates, Civil Responsibility Insurance, technical inspection procedure, blood alcohol tests, etc.”

The motorists are riding about Chita streets to estimate the quality of road surfacing upon declining an official protocol-suggesting sightseeing tour of the city.

It is planned that on Wednesday evening, the motorists in downtown area will contact Prime Minister Vladimir Putin within the scope of a video conference. They are to tell the Premier how his assignments concerning the development of the Federal Chita-Khabarovsk road (“Amur” Highway) are carried out.

Participants in the video conference are substantively to discuss matters of current importance concerning the maintenance and development of the Federal motor-road network, as well as the functioning of the roadmaking sector as a whole. Special attention is to be devoted to the results of accomplishment of respective assignments that were earlier given by Putin in this respect, the government press service reported.

Vice-Premier Sergei Ivanov, Transport Minister Igor Levitin and Communications Minister Igor Shchyogolev, as well as representatives of other ministries and agencies concerned, and the chiefs of building companies will take part in the conference.

The organizers of the Vladivostok-Kaliningrad month-long motor rally, which began on August 25, are aiming mainly on creating a system of public control over the condition of Russian roads.

Participants in the motor rally are to ride via such large cities as Khabarovsk, Chita, Ulan Ude, Irkutsk, Kurgan, Chelyabinsk, as well as small populated areas with a view to gaining full and objective picture of current road problems.

Participants in the motor rally mak entries in their Internet diary about their journey across Russia. Fresh impressions are described in their notes about a ride along the Amur Highway.They met with the builders of that road from the roadbuilding company Trud (labour). Company chief Sergei Ten told the motorists about the peculiarities of road construction in Zabaikalye. His estimate is that “the most difficult problem is posed by permafrost, a phenomenon which has not been fully studied here”.

Owing to permafrost, a newly-built road’s asphalt surfacing heaves while earth sags. Nevertheless, the company gives a guarantee of eight years for the road “cushion” and five years for the roadbed. In the event of damage, the company does repairs on its own.


.Econ development min presents new Strategy to 2020.

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MOSCOW, August 31 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia’s Ministry of economic development has presented to the government a draft of updated national Strategy of innovative development to 2020.

The way to “economy of knowledge” is broken into twenty stages. The budget may face new expenses – for example, the authors suggest allocating grants for business research, forwarding money to innovative regions and supporting children’s scientific and technical creativity, Deputy Minister Oleg Fomichev told the Rossiiskaya Gazeta on Wednesday.

He explained that this financing model is due from 2013. For example, in the framework of the new instruments businesses will receive four billion roubles, the regions – five billion, and the children – 1.5 billion roubles.

“The state support is not the major instrument of the Strategy – it should be rather an impetus,” Fomichev said. “As yet, this impetus is not sufficient.”

As he explained, part of the 20 stages explained in the Strategy, are being implemented already. For example, all 47 companies with state participation have prepared programmes of innovative development. The ministry of education and science has been mediating establishment of contacts with Russian universities and institutes. Earlier, Russian companies bought most research from abroad, and now there is a chance that Russian scientists will start working on demand from businesses.

Russia’s ministry of economic development reports that the state’s general expenses on innovations in 2012-2013 will become less, reaching one percent of the GDP against 1.3 percent over the current year,

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