Mikhail Lifshits: There are still no Russian gas turbines, because they were not bought


Mikhail Lifshits Rotek In 2022, the state holding RusHydro, left without imported gas turbines, decided to supply Russian steam engines to Yakutskaya GRES-2. In December, the company signed a contract with the Rotek holding, which includes the Ural Turbine Works (UTZ). Why was this choice made and is there a future for Russian gas turbines, “Ъ” said the chairman of the board of directors of Rotek Mikhail Lifshits.

— Do you believe in that a Russian gas turbine of high power will appear?
— Certainly. It must be understood that there are still no Russian gas turbines, because they were not bought. It was easier, more reliable, and more enjoyable for the generators to buy a well-proven imported turbine than to risk buying a new machine.
— What share of your portfolio of orders is occupied by orders for turbines for projects of the program for the modernization of old thermal power plants?
— At the moment, the share of orders for conventional generation under the subsidized modernization program greatly outweighed our traditional balance. Up to about 80%. But we have always tried to maintain such a ratio that 50% of the products go in the traditional generation segment, and the remaining 50% — either for export or to some other industries, including industrial generation, waste management, turbines for nuclear icebreakers.
— Generating companies in 2022 complained about delays in deliveries of key Russian-made equipment, including turbines. Are their claims justified?
— Turbine production — a very long and branched organism of industrial cooperation. Any failure at the beginning of the production process begins to move along the entire production chain with an increase. Of course, the collisions that occurred in the metallurgy at the beginning of 2022 led to some industry shocks. It became unclear to the metal producer at what price to sell it, due to price frenzy amid sanctions and uncertainties with exchange rates and export prices. We were probably slightly more enlightened position compared to other market participants, maybe because we are more compact or bolder and we order many components without having money from the customer yet. This allowed us to go through this rather powerful turbulence of the first quarter without falling into delays. UTZ delayed delivery for a maximum of one to two weeks. None of these delays affected construction progress.
— The generators also complained about the large increase in the price of turbines.
— We openly publish the indicators of our enterprise: if you find some kind of excess profit there, then I will be ready to discuss it. Key indicator for me — This is production per person. Our output per person is roughly similar to our Western colleagues. We are efficient we have no redundancy of personnel, technological processes are reasonably optimized. But there are factors beyond our control, for example, the level of wages of specialists in the region. We must be competitive in the labor market. The average salary at machine-building enterprises in Yekaterinburg in 2019 was about 50-55 thousand rubles. In 2022, the same figure almost doubled. People — our main value and resource, we simply do not have the right to save on salaries.
In addition, pricing, of course, changes if the price of metal changes. Moreover, the price of metal is very inertial. We are told: the price on the exchange rose in January, but then fell into place. It's great, but only you counted the exchange raw material groups, and we buy non-ferrous metal powders, products of the second and third processing stages. Our suppliers who bought powders in January and processed them don't look at the exchange, they look at their CAPEX and OPEX. Turbine — a product of well-developed cooperation associated with casting, rolling, and non-ferrous metal, and metals, and products made from them.