The Yamal LNG project is being implemented at the Yuzhno-Tambeyskoye field (Yamal Peninsula) and involves the launch of three production lines to produce liquefied natural gas with a capacity of about 5.5 million tonnes per year each. So far, the first phase of the plant has been put into operation. The second and third phase will open in 2018–2019.
* * *
Conversation with Yamal LNG plant employees
Question: I don’t suppose the northern lights lit up the road for you.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: No, I did not see the northern lights. I saw only the glow of your plant. A real high-tech aurora borealis.
Question: How do you like the scale of it?
Vladimir Putin: It is great. Impressive.
Question: Did you have the chance to appreciate the scale of the project on site?
Vladimir Putin: Yes. We took a drive around the sites and had a look at them. Your colleagues told me about what was done and how, so I am in the loop.
Remark: It is one thing on paper, but seeing is believing. Photos do not provide the entire picture.
Vladimir Putin: I have been to the north many times to tour Gazprom sites. Powerful modern production facilities were built in the north, but you have the latest one here, which is new for Russia and the rest of the world.
Vladimir Putin: I will get back to it later. I remember how I was dissuaded in every way from supporting this project.
Question: In 2010, you supported it. Seven years have passed since then. Do you think we accomplished what you believed in from day one?
Vladimir Putin: Of course. Today is the first shipment. However, there were a lot of objections. If we followed all of them, we would be better off doing nothing. In general, really, you know, since you work here, that there are many difficulties.
Question: Mr President, after the first step, which we are witnessing today, how do you see the development of the LNG business in Yamal?
Vladimir Putin: We will certainly keep expanding it. Mr Mikhelson [Chairman of the Management Board of NOVATEK] spoke about Yamal LNG-2 based on modern innovative Russian technology. The fourth line is planned to be built here, but this time using only Russian technology, which, as your colleagues told me, will be 30 percent cheaper. Are you aware of this?
Remark: Yes, but there are nuances.
Vladimir Putin: There are nuances related to summer temperatures, but overall it would be very interesting, of course, if we could create competences which did not exist before. It would be just great. This is, perhaps, the largest step forward in developing the Arctic. As Lomonosov once said, Russia will expand through Siberia. Now we can safely say that Russia will expand through the Arctic this and next century. This is where the largest mineral reserves are located. This is the site of a future transport artery that I am sure will be very good and efficient – the Northern Sea Route.
So, the step you have taken is essential for the country, not just the energy sector or LNG projects, but in general. It is about new jobs, infrastructure development, and comprehensive development. To reiterate, this is critical for Russia.
Remark: We are ready to support further steps but we have some apprehensions about workforce. We have some problems with it. We are trying to find the best resources for such projects that require education and deep understanding of the discipline in which we are looking for new colleagues. But, regrettably, it is very difficult to choose the right personnel in the market today.
Vladimir Putin: But you have chosen them.
Remark: But they came from all over the country. We looked for them in the entire country.
Vladimir Putin: So what? You will continue choosing them in the same way.
Remark: The head has very many plans but this team is limited. This is a problem. We must further develop education – both secondary and higher – so that we are not left alone.
Vladimir Putin: Of course. Look, we did not possess this competence before. In effect, these are the first steps. For what projects were we supposed to train them? There was no reason when there were no projects. Now they are appearing.
Do you know what else is very important? It was very important for you to make it and now you have, this is obvious. Now that you have seen that you have made it and that projects will multiply, you know secondary and higher education will be set up.
Remark: We hope that the Minister of Education will issue a relevant instruction.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course.
Remark: We can go over the details both here and in Moscow.
Remark: But take warm hats with you.
Vladimir Putin: No doubt, it will be essential to consider your experience. It is necessary to establish what is required of specialists at the given jobs and educate them accordingly.
Remark: Mr President, we can compile a list of professions that are in short supply.
Vladimir Putin: This is exactly what should be done. Specialists should be trained for specific jobs as engineers and workers, not just trained without any sense of where they will end up.
Remark: Because we are eagerly awaiting them.
Vladimir Putin: I think they will hear you and come to you.
Remark: I hope so.
Vladimir Putin: We have been holding another student contest. We have a great many talented young people, so if they realise (and they will see it now and realise) that it is needed, that there are interesting and promising jobs, there will be a response from the education system.
Remark: It should be also covered by the media in some way because as we travel around the cities I notice that people largely believe it is very hard to get involved in our business. But we are ready to receive young people with doors wide open, we are ready to train them.
Vladimir Putin: You have higher wages, so they think they won’t be taken on here, only through good connections. What is your average wage?
Remark: I think the question should be addressed to our bosses.
Remark: It depends. There are workers, there are highly qualified engineers. On average, it is around 120–150 thousand rubles.
Vladimir Putin: And the ceiling?
Remark: The ceiling is very high.
Vladimir Putin: And I am not even asking you about healthcare.
Remark: It might be 400, yes.
Vladimir Putin: You said it right – when this is made explicit in the media, they will understand that the conditions are not easy, they are tough. What can I say, it is the polar night. What is the temperature now? Minus 25, I think, at least.
Remark: Twenty-five, and a bit of a breeze.
Vladimir Putin: A bit. There is something to it, too. You see, it is working under such harsh conditions, testing oneself, working on such up-to-date facilities as you have – this is an attraction for professionals, for people who commit themselves to a certain trade. This is why I think there will be many people willing to try. These are first steps but they are good, successful steps. And this is crucial.
Remark: Thank you.
Question: I have a question that touches on a problem. The Olympics are coming. We are worrying, we are concerned about our athletes. Which sport are you a fan of?
Vladimir Putin: Letme repeat, it is judo.
Remark: That is not a winter sport.
Vladimir Putin: Alpine skiing and ice hockey.
Question: What radius do you ski?
Vladimir Putin: Radius? I don’t know the radius.
Remark: Ski geometry. My son is very curious.
Vladimir Putin: Well, modern ones.
Question: Are they 12 metres or 16?
Vladimir Putin: I don’t know about themetres. You see, I am an amateur unlike your son (Laughter).
Remark: We will be cheering together. We like hockey here.
Vladimir Putin: I learnt to get up on skates just a few years ago. I could not do it at all.
Question: Will you support a small series of amateur games on the Arctic ice?
Vladimir Putin: This is exactly what I have been doing, supporting.
Question: Are you willing to take part?
Vladimir Putin: Here? With you?
Vladimir Putin: At minus 25? (Laughter). You are the ones who are used to it.
Remark: We had a tournament, right on the ice of the Kara Sea, it was minus 17 but the guys were playing, it was really cool.
Vladimir Putin: You should take care because the air you breathe is cold, you can get a cold. You can simply breathe in too much cold air.
Question: Do you keep the Christmas fast?
Vladimir Putin: Fasting? You know, warriors and travellers may skip fasting, and I am nearly always on the road, and I am also the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, so it is not always doable.
Question: Mr President, every time I come home after a month-long shift, tired after a long trip, my wife tells me, ”Look, the President flies a lot, but he is always in great shape.“ Perhaps you can share a tip or two on how to take care of yourself after a lot of travelling?
Vladimir Putin: I have already said it many times, and you yourself are aware of it. You can do whatever you like, just in moderation. Also, always remember to stay active.
Question: Do you like to read while travelling, maybe? Perhaps, you can recommend something to us, give some advice?
Vladimir Putin: Do you want me to give you what I was reading today on the way here? You will fall asleep in two minutes. I, too, have to struggle each time I start reading. But I have to read things. Today, I was reading some reference materials, even though I think I know it all, but I still read them.
Question: Do you prefer historical literature?
Vladimir Putin: I love history, it is true, you guessed right.
Question: Maybe you could share something you believe, or some life advice? What do you do to look so well? Does something about your work help?
Vladimir Putin: You know, in life work helps. If someone is focused on achieving a personal goal, or a cause that you dedicated yourself to, it always motivates, it always pushes you forward, and it always makes you think about what else needs to be done, how you need to work on yourself in order to be up to the task at hand. This is critical. If a person is motivated in his work, if he controls himself, this helps him get his act together, disciplines him. However, it is more difficult for someone without a purpose. You know, if you lack something to hold it all together… The work here is interesting, right?
Remark: Yes, of course,
Vladimir Putin: Right. There are difficulties, there is an additional burden, but it is interesting. And this interest makes you tick. You have found yourself to some degree. Everyone must strive to find himself. It is important.
Remark: Mr President, we can show you around a bit, since we started talking about work.
Vladimir Putin: I think we should. Or else the tanker will leave without us.