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Oleg Kozhemyako: "The potential of Sakhalin is not yet fully disclosed"

Governor of the oil and gas region on new technologies, industries, norms and specialists

Oleg Kozhemyako:
Photo: Kirill Kukhmar / VEF, TASS
- The economy of Sakhalin is gradually becoming not only oil and gas, and it is already clear which sectors will continue to develop in the coming years: tourism, agro-industry, fish processing. And if you look a little farther into the future? What are still undisclosed prospects that can "shoot" in five to ten years?

- The potential of the Sakhalin region is really not fully disclosed. Even its natural resources, which everyone knows about, are not yet fully used. I know how to develop deep oil and gas processing, the demand for products is dictated by the market. On Sakhalin it is convenient to develop, as there are ice-free ports, close to the markets of the USA and other countries of the Asia-Pacific region. Certainly, these are the projects of spatial development, the creation of logistics sites, interesting for our neighbors, especially Japan. Now experimental shipments show that some types of cargo can be delivered from Asia to Europe for 15 days - three times faster than the sea. And this is the fast turnover of money. I think soon, tourism will gain momentum, and Sakhalin will become an attractive place for winter and summer sports. The economic potential of the Kurile Islands will open, where we now have many enterprises and the most modern factory for deep processing of fish products will be opened in October. Tourism to the Kuril Islands is also just beginning. 

- How do you see the future of Sakhalin?

- This is supplying themselves with food, logistics, comfortable cities, allowing people not to feel their isolation from the so-called "big earth". Normal universities, normal schools with a good education. A good social environment, a decent salary is what people need. Good ecology. All this is somehow connected with IT-technologies, with a "figure" in schools and in production. This is, in the end, the question of a "new student", which we must solve now, because by the time of 2030, these children will become the future of Sakhalin and our entire country. 

- So, you need to bet on "human capital"?

- Yes exactly. By 2024, we need to build a number of educational facilities: gardens, schools, buildings and outbuildings. Of course, we need new technologies in schools. We need a "new teacher" who will prepare the child for the generation of high technologies and communications. We need specialists in high-level working professions who did not just read the theory and they passed the exam - the future here is the WorldSkills standard. The national championship WS Russia this year was held in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, and this system already shows that it can replace the imperfect system of professional education. 

- Sakhalin, like many northern regions of the Far East, has one problem: business is burdened with the need to pay the "northern" ones, which the state used to pay, respectively, local entrepreneurs lose competition with western ones, who are free from such obligations. Is there a recipe for solving the problem?

- Of course, and very simple. Let's conduct all auctions for the construction of objects without taking into account the "northern", and then pay them only for those companies that work in these conditions. Now it turns out, we put into the project these extra charges. A company from the mainland comes to the competition, which is not obliged to provide these benefits to employees, reduces the price for this part of the project cost and wins. A local company, if she wants to fight at a price, what should she do? Leave in the state a narrow group of specialists, and hire unskilled labor from the number of migrants? Therefore, we believe that it is necessary to hold competitions correctly. In any project, the estimated cost is based on climatic conditions, geographic, availability - that's all there is.

- Did you come up with proposals on changing the legislation for the federal center?

- Out. There is understanding from FAS, there is no understanding of the Ministry of Construction, but we will work.

- You said: not all of Sakhalin's potential has been disclosed. If you take, for example, the tourism industry, in your opinion, what is more "playing" - to advertise Sakhalin, increase its recognition, or increase its transport accessibility? 

- Interconnected things. The effect of tourism in general is complex. If we start talking from the point of view of the economy, the number of tourists in the winter has increased by one third. What did it give us? People got a job, the public catering points began to work, steel products purchased, transportation earned, taxis, services, rentals. But in general, if we recalculate on the effect of tax revenues - this is not yet very noticeable. On the other hand, compare two projects: the largest, trillion investments in the Amur Gas Processing Plant of Gazprom will create 5 thousand new jobs. And at times less investment in the tourist infrastructure of Sochi has already given about 7 thousand new jobs for local small businesses, no production - only the maintenance of tourist flows. So I'm sure tourism is undervalued by us. 

- A good example with Sochi: there one advertising was not done. 

- Of course. You can, of course, begin to actively advertise tourist sites in Sakhalin. But it is also necessary to deal with the infrastructure at the same time: advertising must be accompanied by the availability of goods. Advertising without a product - it means a person came, looked, and he will no longer believe either advertising or Sakhalin. 

- How do you think, how long does it take for a tourist product to become worthy of advertising?

- The road is not easy. I believe that at least five to seven years will pass before people's minds take root in the minds of people that Sakhalin is an opportunity to visit the Kuriles, to descend from the mountain slopes, to visit the sources on the easternmost outskirts of the country. Summer potential of Sakhalin, as I believe, is not disclosed at all. And this is fishing with good fishing, and walking tours. In winter - it's skiing, snowmobiles, mild climate, comfortable accommodation in different categories - from hostels to chalets. We can become such mini-Alps, close to Asia. For this to happen, you need cheap air tickets, and the creation of infrastructure - transport and tourism. We need to go to this, do not be afraid to invest, because we invest in the future generation, in the future of the country.
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