Most people, even those who follow Russian affairs closely, will have understandably missed this story:
ОАО “Tatneft” has selected a contractor to build the new Nizhnekamsk Refinery worth $5 billion. ОАО “Tatneft” signed the contract with the US company Fluor Daniel Overseas, Inc. Construction of the refinery with crude processing capacity of 7 million tons annually will be completed in 2009.
It came to my attention a week or so back when one of the Fluor directors told me about it. When an engineering company like Fluor wins a contract like this, many other companies – my own included – take a keen interest in the hope of securing part of the workscope.
Readers who have been following my writings since early 2004 will recall that my first trip to Russia – and the one which started off this entire fascination with the place and its people – was an ill-prepared journey to Moscow and then Nizhnekamsk, which I wrote about extensively at the time. Now the name Nizhnekamsk is being murmured around the corridors of engineering and service companies, I have found myself in the unique position of being the only person on Sakhalin who has any idea where it is, let alone having been there. I can therefore advise reasonably well on what to expect should anybody pay a visit to the place, which they surely will. Or rather, I can advise on what not to expect, stuff like a decent hotel, a working cashpoint, a taxi with working seatbelts, and a straight militiaman.
Furthermore, it is looking increasingly likely that I will have to take a trip there myself in the near future, which if it takes place will surely rank as one of the most bizarre coincidences I will encounter in my life. If I do go back, I will have a barrel of laughs taking pictures and writing about my second trip there with respect to the first.