Rustam Minnikhanov on flurry before oil forum: ‘Karimov, this is your job, by the way’

Kazan Fair’s head Lev Semyonov warned about a critical delay in the preparation for the Tatarstan Gas and Petrochemical Forum

Director General of Kazan Fair PJSC Lev Semyonov warned the Tatarstan president that the republic was seriously falling behind the schedule to prepare for the 2021 Tatarstan Gas and Petrochemical Forum. There is a reason for the flurry: a decree of the Tatarstan Cabinet of Ministers about the organisation of the forum was adopted three months to its beginning, while participants in the end themselves don’t want to book seats for an exhibition in advance fearing to lose money because of the probable cancellation of the forum like it was during the pandemic in 2020. The problem was discussed at a board meeting of Tatneftekhiminvest-holding Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent attended too.

What “hydrogen Tatarstan” is going to be made from

The next meeting of the board of directors of Tatneftekhiminvest-holding was again dedicated to hot-button projects on green energy, carbon footprint, digitalisation and the environment. Hydrogen energy is still at the heart of the interest of large businesses, since hydrogen is the most energy-intensive and lightweight substance among all types of fuel.

Kirill Lyats, an acting director general of Cryomash-BZMK — one of the oldest Russian enterprises specialising in hydrogen energy, presented technological solutions to transit to a wide use of green fuel at the meeting. In fact, hydrogen production is not considered an innovation now: tonnes of hydrogen used to be made in the Soviet era, he reminded the audience.

“The factory itself was created in the late 50s to implement projects on hydrogen energy to launch Sergey Korolyov’s rocket N1,” he provided a brief historical insight. “We made the first hydrogen liquefaction unit the first hydrogen-based rocket was to go to the Moon with. Grigory Tsfasman who dealt with this development together with Korolyov has still been working with us. They were involved in the launch of a hydrogen flight programme of the Soviet Tu-155 plane,” he said proving that not only land transport, which is considered the main consumer, but also hydrogen planes can be built.

Kirill Lyats offered a number of projects that, as he thinks, can create “hydrogen” Tatarstan. In fact, all his speech was about this. The first step was made: an agreement with RARITEC was signed to create hydrogen tanks, he said. “We signed it a month ago for two mobile LNG stations and we are due to show them in the autumn,” he revealed the essence of the agreement. There are a lot of ideas ahead.

LNG bunkering is obsolete: one should look at hydrogen

Before this, he reminded the audience that in 2020 the Russian government approved of an energy strategy of the country through 2035 and key measures to development hydrogen power. The programme envisages the development of the first commercial hydrogen energy projects. He put the first examples of projects from the company’s practice. A project with Russian Railways designed to launch “blue wagons” running on hydrogen traction is one of the key ones.

“Later this year, there is going to be shown a hydrogen cargo wagon with galloons with liquid hydrogen and fuel elements (foreign). The first wagon of this kind will be put into operation in Yamal,” he said.

Also, the company works with Sinara, Transmashholding. The speaker sees big prospects in ship engineering. He asked the Tatarstan president to support the possible relationships with the Gorky plant in Zelenodolsk. “They are actively considering LNG,” he said thinking such a prospect short-term. According to him, LNG bunkering “isn’t very profitable, while all ship engineering is considering hydrogen.”

Also, he offered to create a green hydrogen centre in a hydropower plant and consider the possibility of opening a fuel battery plant. He assumes that this market has just started to develop, while only two enterprises make them for special needs in the country.

“We are ready to start the production of fuel elements in the country with partners from Switzerland and Holland. We offer to establish cooperation in Tatarstan,” Lyats said.

He supposes that this theme could be profitable for the republic because Tatarstan is a region with a lot of greenhouse gases and it will have to work to reduce the emissions.

Minnikhanov: “But we aren’t considering Moon plans”

“I have been in the plant in Balashikha, they have a team, they have business with RARITEC,” Director General of Tatneftekhimimvest-holding Rafinat Yaryllin supported the speaker. “We produce 400,000 tonnes of hydrogen but don’t run related businesses. We should unite. We should consider ship engineering.”

The president wondered how promising hydrogen production projects via electrolysis and pyrolysis were. “They are four times more expensive,” Yarullin disagreed. “We have pyrolysis,” Lyatsk assured them and dissipated the president’s doubts.

“Fine, let’s come to an agreement,” the president ordered. “But we aren’t considering Moon plans.”

Rustam Minnikhanov gave them to understand that it is necessary to stay clear of fantastic ideas. “Why?” asked Kirill Lyats. “Somebody should stay on Earth,” the president joked in reply.

How to recruit IT staff

Vice Director General in Development and Resident Affairs of Innopolis Special Economic Zone JSC Vadil Galeyev presented a solution to an IT staff shortage. He announced the creation of an IT recruiting school to provide Tatarstan enterprises with IT developers. According to him, they consolidate all applications of job seekers and employers on their platform, find specialists on social media themselves and host electronic conferences from where they obtain permits from specialists to use their personal data. The speaker noted that they managed to close 400 vacancies in a year. Tatarstan Vice Premier Roman Shaykhutdinov explained that this organisational project allows saving money on recruitment.

“A specialist’s three salaries need to be spent to recruit staff. Ours should be better taught. Demand for digitalisation especially grows,” he explained.

Kazan Federal University’s Rector Ilshat Gafurov was alarmed, what if staff is pouched. “If only there was no outflow,” he claimed. But he was calmed down. “400 vacancies were closed: they all are in Innopolis,” Vadim Galeyev said.

“Just three months to go”

At the end of the meeting, a hidden opposition between Kazan Fair PJSC and Kazan Expo for the right to host big exhibitions in Tatarstan unexpectedly came to the surface. After state exhibitions and forums moved to Kazan Expo, their relations worsened and worsened so much that the key event of the sector turned out to be jeopardised — the Tatarstan Gas and Petrochemical Forum, which will be held for the first time with SIBUR. The forum is due to be at Kazan Expo from 31 August to 2 September. This time Kazan Fair PJSC hosting the forum for 28 years was chosen as the operator again. Moreover, Kazan Fair registered the right to ownership of the brand Tatarstan Gas and Petrochemical Forum. Oil. Gas. Petrochemistry.

At the board meeting, head of Kazan Fair Lev Semyonov warned about a critical delay in the organisation of the main exhibition because of the late adoption of the decree of the Tatarstan Cabinet of Ministers. According to him, a decree is usually adopted at the beginning of the year, but this time it was adopted only on 26 May. “That’s to say, there are three months to go,” he indicated and added that a good preparation for an international congress lasts 9 months.

Moreover, all organisational issues are at an early stage, Semyonov complained. By his estimate, the costs are evaluated at over 26 million rubles, but the operator doesn’t have so much money to pay an advance like before. After that, the republican budget as well as TAIF GC, Tatneft compensated for the costs. This year, the operator is unable to pay the whole sum on its own, Semyonov claimed and asked sponsors to transfer money beforehand.

The key question is how to avoid the risks of losing the status of the operator. Lev Semyonov offered to sign an agreement with the Ministry of Industry and Trade for no less than 3 years and fix the dates of the forum, the site and the status of the exhibition’s operator. “This will allow working without risks and avoid a flurry,” he assured them.

According to Semyonov, the last year when many lost money because of the cancellation of the forum influenced the low activity of participants in booking exposition spots. “Due to this, enterprises contemplate for long and make a decision precisely before the beginning of the exhibition,” he explained. More than 30 companies from 16 regions have agreed to participate today. A total of over 2,000 delegates are expected.

“Karimov, this is your job, by the way. Why haven’t you transferred the money? Why isn’t the theme distributed? Nothing has been organised,” Rustam Minnikhanov was indignant.

“The forum will be hosted, Mr Minnikhanov. The preparation is underway,” Tatarstan Vice Premier and Minister of Industry and Trade Albert Karimov stood up.

Later, he added that everything must be done via tenders. He probably meant that Kazan Fair and Kazan Expo were to participate in public contracts. This is why the decree was possibly adopted late. But Karimov’s model didn’t work.

“Everything must be done routinely,” the president was still outraged.

“This is solved,” Karimov repeated directly. “We have problems, Mr Minnikhanov. We can organise the work differently so that in the long term...”

“If Semyonov isn’t our fellow traveller, may he be removed? Is he the problem?” the president asked.

Karimov preferred not to reply. “We are trying,” he said evasively.

“Back him up. You have never said there is a funding problem. You know I always support the forum with all the top officials, including me, the premier. Is Minnigaliyev here? The theme was chosen, but Minnigaliyev wasn’t invited. Albert, this is your task. As a vice premier you say that we move this way. It is up to you. It is the main exhibition. And the content must be well-thought-out, invite interesting experts, organise several sections, I am ready to come and listen. Write everything down to be ready on 31 August. Also, ask the partners from SIBUR to make an exposition. It is necessary to hold this event on a large scale, interestingly and well!” the president instructed him.

Luiza Ignatyeva. Photo:

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