Media Review

30 march, 2012 13:00

Rossiiskaya Gazeta: "Government to hold inventory of power-generating facilities"

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has called for simplified administrative barriers during housing construction.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has called for simplified administrative barriers during housing construction.

Participants in the March 30 Government Presidium meeting focused on energy issues.

First, Minister of Energy Sergei Shmatko suggested conducting an inventory of power-generating facilities in major cities. He told Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that the facilities that are not used by the defence industry and industrial enterprises should be made a part of the national power grid.

“It is common knowledge that many enterprises that existed in the past, including numerous defence industry enterprises, are connected to high-capacity power-generating facilities,” he said. “But consumption has decreased.”

Today, shopping centres requiring less electricity frequently operate on the territory of such enterprises, the minister added.

To show the economic effect of the planned measures, Shmatko mentioned Moscow, which consumes 16,000-17,000 megawatts, with an extra 1,000 megawatts to spare. He added that the relevant regulatory documents must be approved to implement specific plans.

The minister also discussed the connection of consumer and power networks. He said that the decision has been made not to charge any payments on corporate expenses to expand today’s infrastructure. But new consumers are an exception, he said.

However, this is not the most important issue.

“A key aspect is to achieve absolute information transparency in this area,” Shmatko said.

All major electricity network companies operate interactive online portals where anyone can assess power-generating capacities in any specific district, find out about development prospects and make an online request, he said. Officials at the Ministry of Energy hope that this will reduce risks of corruption.

On March 29, the Government Presidium also decided to extend the technical terms to five years, so that, as Putin stressed, they will not have to “come running” and extend these terms every three years.

“We need to simplify procedures and regulations to the maximum possible extent, including housing construction site registration, design and project approval, and connecting apartment buildings to utility mains,” the prime minister said. “I am talking about the entire range of issues linked with efforts to simplify and remove administrative barriers during construction work.”

This is quite relevant because Russia had virtually attained pre-crisis levels as regards the commissioning of new housing in 2011. In all, 62.3 million square metres of housing were built, or 6.6% more than in 2010. It is rather hard to build facilities in Russia. The process is actually tougher than in many foreign countries, Putin said.

“Unfortunately, the authorising procedures here are more numerous and take more time,” he noted.

Russia stipulates 53 procedures lasting 540 days. At the same time, industrial countries have 16 procedures taking 166 days. All of this serves to make commissioning housing more expensive, the prime minister concluded.

The government also examined amendments simplifying the transfer of casing-head gas into gas transportation systems. Such amendments will enter into force in July 2012.

Industrial economies use up 95% of their casing-head gas. In some countries, it is forbidden to incinerate casing-head gas, a government spokesperson said. Russia uses just 75.6% of its casing-head gas.

Companies receive a sound return on their multibillion investments, Putin said. Casing-head gas provides heat, electricity and valuable chemical products. In the long run, it also facilitates an expanded export potential.

This issue is particularly relevant because Russia’s oil industry had produced 511 million tonnes of crude oil in 2011 -- more than any other country. In all, 66 billion cubic metres of casing-head gas were produced last year. There are plans to produce 70 billion cubic metres in 2012.

These production targets have been relevant for a long time. There were no heated debates in the government, and the documents were coordinated without any problem, Shmatko told journalists after the Government Presidium meeting.

Participants in the March 29 meeting did not only discuss oil, gas and electricity issues. The ministers also discussed a contest for workers to be held at the federal level for the first time. Five categories have been approved:

-- Best Welder;

-- Best Bricklayer;

-- Best Miner;

-- Best Electrician;

-- Best Heavy-Duty Lorry Driver.

The winner will receive 300,000 roubles. The second and third place winners will receive 200,000 roubles and 100,000 roubles, respectively.

The Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development has already started selecting candidates. All participants must have a work record of at least three years in their respective profession. The prizes will be awarded in late 2012.


In 2011, Russia had virtually attained pre-crisis levels as regards building new housing. In all, 62.3 million sq. m. of housing were built.

Kira Latukhina