Gennady Sakharov: the atomic industry needs high quality engineering.

Gennady Sakharov: the atomic industry needs high quality engineering.
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 The State Atomic Energy Corporation “Rosatom” Capital Investments Director and Capital Construction Industry Expertise Center Director, Gennady Sakharov, answers our questions.

— Mr. Sakharov, before we start our conversation let me congratulate you on signing important agreements in Egypt on behalf of the State Atomic Energy Corporation “Rosatom”. I hope it is not the last of your contracts this year…

— Thank you. It really is a very important event and a very significant result. I hope we’ll be able to proceed quickly with the achievement of the agreements. 

— What are the results at the end of the year regarding the State Atomic Energy Corporation “Rosatom”’s capital construction projects? Did you manage to implement all that you’d planned?  

— In general, the year of 2014 ended well; all our planned financial and economic goals were achieved. The real amount of financing under the JSC “Rosenergoatom” investment program was 187.9 billion roubles (101.3% of what we had planned). According to the year’s results, “Rosenergoatom” demonstrated record-breaking production: atomic power stations (affiliated enterprises) yielded 180.5 billion kWh.  Federal investment programs and state defence orders yielded 100% plan implementation. A 100% result was achieved with the investment program of the atomic power station (APS) design and construction on the southern coast of Turkey.


On February, 2nd the 4th unit plant of Beloyarsk APS was put into operation. The other most important achievement was the launching of the Rostov APS unit plant: on December, 27th it was incorporated into the Unified Energy System of Russia.

Because of the problems with equipment delivery from Ukraine, the start of the 1st Novovoronezhsk APS-2 unit plant was moved from 2014 to 2015. It is one of the most complex objects: the head unit plant of the new APS-2006 project series. That was one of the reasons why we decided not to rush construction of the Rostov APS 3rd unit plant.

—2015 will be a difficult year. What are you expecting from it at SAEC Rosatom?

— Living through a crisis is always difficult. We are considering it from the viewpoint of new investment programs. It is not only a challenge but also an additional opportunity to find reserves, to optimize the work and to make it more efficient. When financial sources are reduced and there are demands for financial stability and electrical energy complex functioning reliability, we reinforce control of capital construction objects and the effective use of budget money.

 Another important task is to form the methodology for the development of cost and resources regulatory norms and standards.

Photo: Novovoronezhsk APS 


 — From your point of view, what prevents us from developing high quality engineering in Russia?

— The main problem is the absence of a clear legislative and institutional base. There is no state-level awareness that large-scale support for engineering is necessary. In many countries, engineering companies have 5-10 billion dollars a year turnover and are actively supported by the government, because such companies provide for intellectual superiority in industry development. In Russia, there are no companies of this type. And this is being aggravated by the economic situation.  The majority of our engineering companies are surviving and some are undergoing difficulties, even such well-known companies as «?4».

Our task remains to actively develop laws and regulations in the sphere of construction and investment engineering. We want to make it a clear service defined in legal documents. As soon as we provide legislatively for opportunities for commercial activity in the field of intellectual engineering services, engineering companies will be able to develop business models with clear sources of income and profit. And only then can we start forming an engineering cluster as a specific commercial activity – with its fee schedules, costs and responsibilities.

     To put it all into practice, we assume, the National Association of Consulting Engineers (NACE) in the field of construction was created recently, and you were elected its President…

     The mission of NACE is to create basic conditions for engineering development in Russia and engineering consulting as a special kind of business. Its strategic aim is to implement the best engineering practice in the field of standards in Russia and to integrate with international associations, such as FIDIC.

     Talking about regulations and standards, recently Mikhail Menn, the Minister of Construction, Housing and Utilities of the Russian Federation, initiated a transition to the resource cost method of an object.

     … and we started it last year, as far as APS and other objects constructed for the atomic industry are concerned. So “Rosatom” is part of this trend. Another key task for 2015 is to develop competence in engineering activities in the atomic power branch of the industry.


Photo: Leningrad APS

 — How do the specialists at “Rosatom” develop innovation technologies?

— Nowadays we are doing a project of innovation implementation for intra-group systems for the atomic energy objects capital construction, and we are developing and putting into practice innovation technologies in construction.   

A number of pilot projects are being adopted in 2015: the technology of strengthening soft soils by partial fluvial soil replacement; the development of “dry” protection for the WWER (Water-water energetic reactor) using serpentine concrete on a base of blended cement; and dry concrete mix technology development for particular APS structures.

The first project was started at the end of 2014 on the Kursk APS-2 site. It will make it possible to reduce the cost of the “zero” cycle by 11% (about 600 mln roubles) compared with the project. Besides, the unit plant construction term will be 18 months shorter. To select the projects, we are fixing our intra-group methodology for innovation projects assessment and rating.  

 — The problem of highly qualified engineer training is very acute in Russia. How has it been solved in your branch of the industry?

— We cooperate closely with Moscow State University for Construction (MSUC), one of the basic high education institutions for “Rosatom”. Specialist training in the field of atomic power objects construction is at a high level and is constantly improving, which guarantees corporate global leadership.  We don’t feel any shortage of specialists in construction. But taking into account the scale of our APS construction plans, both in Russia and abroad, we understand that very soon we’ll need a great number of specialists. So we are paying great attention to this.

 — By the way, what do you think about MBA training programs?

— This system does not suit us at all. The thing is, a person who has received some knowledge in general management as an additional education, but hasn’t assimilated special professional knowledge, will hardly be able to apply it efficiently. We prefer special higher education and corresponding programs of advanced professional training. For example, together with MSUC we have developed three programs for taking part in the competition in the Presidential program engineers’ advanced training in 2012 -2014. Last year “Rosatom” implemented five advanced training programs. More than 300 workers in atomic power objects construction took part in them.

 — Our traditional question. If you have leisure time, what do you do, what are you fond of?

— Of course, my work takes up most of time. But when I am free I pay a lot of attention to my family, hang out with my children – I like to teach them little things, to study the world. I like travelling and hunting, especially in the forests of my native Kaluga region and in general in central Russia.  I’m very fond of dogs, and prefer Spanish mastiffs: these are big strong animals, seemingly very severe but they are kind-hearted and real devoted friends. I am happy to share my hobbies with my wife. She is a person you can run a river with – and it is very important, especially in our atomic branch.

Alexander Gusev, Andrei Chernakov