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    Russia to set up three major shipbuilding holdings in 2007

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    MOSCOW, December 19 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian government will soon adopt a strategy for the development of shipbuilding until 2020, which envisions the creation of three major shipbuilding holdings, the defense minister said Tuesday.

    "I believe these three holdings will be set up and start operations as early as in 2007," Sergei Ivanov, who is also a deputy prime minister, told a news conference.

    The minister said one of the holdings will be set up in Russia's Far East to ensure the development of the shipbuilding industry on the Pacific coast.

    "It is important for us not to lose our position in the construction of ships of various classes on the Pacific coast," Ivanov said, adding that many unresolved problems still remain in Russia's shipbuilding industry.

    "While we are making good progress in the construction of ships for the Navy, the situation in civilian shipbuilding is terrible," the deputy prime minister said.

    The upper house of the Russian parliament recently discussed the current crisis in the civilian shipbuilding industry and issued a statement urging the government to adopt a comprehensive strategy to lead the industry out of the current quagmire.

    Members of the Federation Council stated that the industrial and technological base of shipbuilding organizations does not meet the requirements of modern shipbuilding and does not provide for competitive production. River, fishery, research and rescue fleets are senseless to upgrade, as they are 80% worn out and must be replaced, the statement said.

    In an apparent reference to Gazprom's decision to develop the Shtokman field on its own, Ivanov also urged the concentration of efforts on shipbuilding for oil and gas exploration on the continental shelf, especially in the Arctic region.

    "We need to concentrate all [available] financial resources here, and not only state resources, but also industrial, banking and insurance capital," Ivanov said, adding that investment in this area could total billions of dollars and could be compared with the financing of Russia's space program.

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