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Exclusive: Russia’s drive to replace Western power technology hits snag

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin (2nd R, front) visits the manufacturing facility of UEC-Saturn engine-building company in Rybinsk, Russia April 25, 2017. Picture taken April 25, 2017. Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s drive to build a large power-generating turbine to lessen its dependence on Western technology has suffered a major set-back after a prototype broke beyond repair, two sources familiar with the project told Reuters.

In the past few years Russia has imported the large-capacity gas turbines required to run modern power stations from firms such as Siemens (SIEGn.DE), GE (GE.N) and Alstom (ALSO.PA).

After Western sanctions were imposed on Russia over the conflict with Ukraine four years ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged officials to replace imported technology with home-grown substitutes in energy, software, aerospace and medicine.

The mishap with the 110 Megawatt turbine, a capacity large enough to power a sizeable town, underlines the technical challenges.

Testing was underway on a prototype 110 MW turbine at the Saturn engineering plant in Rybinsk, central Russia, in December last year according to one of the two sources, who are both in the energy sector and familiar with the results of the tests.

“The turbine fell apart,” said the first source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. “They tried to repair it in time for March, but they did not manage it.”

March was the target date for completion of tests on the turbine. Putin, in power since 1999, won a second consecutive term in an election on March 18.

The first source, and a second source, both said it was not possible to rebuild the prototype turbine and the project would have to start again with new equipment.

“The turbine broke up,” said the second source, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media. “There’s no turbine, that’s it.”

“NOT FATAL”

Without any home-grown equivalents, Russia should in most cases still be able to buy turbines from Western suppliers, but U.S. and European Union sanctions have made it harder to import Western power technology under certain circumstances.

Last year Russia clandestinely delivered turbines made by Siemens to a power station in Crimea, which is subject to sanctions, and the European Union retaliated by imposing extra sanctions on officials and companies involved in the operation.

Set-backs to the domestic turbine program could hamper the modernization of power generation if growing tensions with Western states result in tighter sanctions since Russia’s modernization plan is focused on using gas turbines.

The technical hitch also carries a potential political cost: Putin has publicly trumpeted progress in replacing Western technology imports, so any failures will jar with the picture of success he has painted.

The new turbine is being developed by a consortium of ODK, a unit of state-owned conglomerate Rostec that owns the Saturn factory where the testing was being conducted, Russian state technology firm RUSNANO, and state energy firm InterRAO.

In a statement, ODK said one of the mechanisms of the prototype turbine had malfunctioned. It said that would delay work on the project, but could be fixed. “It is not fatal for the project.” It said set-backs were to be expected since this was a pioneering project for Russia.

RUSNANO acknowledged there had been an accident but gave no details. It said it remained committed to the turbine project and expects it will be completed. InterRAO declined to comment.

Russia’s Trade and Industry Ministry, which oversees the machine-building sector, declined to comment and referred questions to Rostec.

WESTERN SANCTIONS

Large capacity gas turbines have been in use around the world for years but their construction is tricky to perfect.

Because they operate at extremely high speeds and high temperatures, they need to be engineered to very precise standards and they use sophisticated electronic control systems to make sure that they operate efficiently.

For many years Russia made no major investment in developing the technology because it was able to import the turbines or the know-how to produce them. A scheme started in the 1990s to develop a large-capacity turbine produced prototypes but they did not go into production.

At a meeting in Russia’s second city of Saint Petersburg in May last year, chaired by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said a 110 MW turbine had been developed and testing should be completed by March 2018.

“This is the first Russian produced powerful machine with 100-percent domestic manufacture and it will, of course, help us to completely substitute purchases of foreign equipment of this capacity,” Novak told the meeting. His ministry did not respond to questions on Tuesday about the set-back.

Additional reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; writing by Christian Lowe; editing by Philippa Fletcher

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Putin invites North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to visit Russia in September

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, June 15th, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference in Qingdao, China June 10, 2018. Sputnik/Mikhael Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin asked North Korean official Kim Yong-Nam at their meeting in Kremlin on Thursday (June 14) to pass an invitation to visit Russia in September to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Kim Yong Nam is head of the Presidium of North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly.

Putin’s invitation to Kim Jong Un comes days after the reclusive North Korean leader held landmark talks in Singapore with U.S. President DonaldTrump.

Putin said he welcomed the meeting between the North Korean leader and U.S. President Donald Trump.

During the meeting, the North Korean official handed a written message to Putin from Kim Jong Un.—Reuters

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Putin officially commences new term as Russian president

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Vladimir Putin was sworn in for another six years as Russian president on Monday.

Standing in the Grand Kremlin Palace, Putin swore to serve the Russian people, safeguard their rights and freedoms, and defend Russian sovereignty.

Putin was inaugurated for his fourth term as president two months after more than 70 percent of voters backed him in a presidential election in which he had no serious challengers. — Reuters

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Duterte, Trump to first meet at APEC Summit in Vietnam

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, November 6th, 2017


MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will be on a four-day working visit in Vietnam from November 8 to 11, 2017.

He will attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting together with the other world economic leaders.

It is expected that President Duterte will be able to meet with US President Donald Trump.

They could possibly have the chance to talk during the welcome ceremony, gala dinner, sidelines or other engagements during the APEC Summit and discuss some issues on economy and security.

“There are several opportunities for the exchanges. I think if you see pretty much convergence between the two presidents will be one on national security, both at the country level and regional level, and then number two, the desire to grow the different engines of the global economy,” said DFA ASEC. Leo Herrera Lim.

The talks, however, may not be that extensive as other world economic leaders are also present in the event.

“While I understand there will be bilateral talks, I don’t think it will be as extensive as his bilateral talks here in Manila plus the fact that he will be spending a whole extra day in Manila so I expect they will have more opportunity, to interact with each other here in Manila,” said Presidential Spokesperson Sec. Harry Roque.

The DFA, however, reiterated that the schedule for the bilateral meetings during the sidelines of APEC for President Duterte is not yet final.

There is also a chance for the chief executive to meet other economic leaders who will not visit the Philippines for the ASEAN Summit on November 12 to 14 such as Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News and Rescue

 

 

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