Russia’s technical textiles and industrial nonwovens industry is steadily growing, which is reflected by the number of new investment projects, which have been announced for implementation in recent months.

One such project has been recently announced by the Balashov textile mill (Baltex), one of Russia’s leading producers of technical textiles and nonwovens, and involves investing up to RUB 10 billion (US$200 million) in the expansion of the production of polyamide fibres and fabrics during the next few years.

Inside Baltex, one of Russia’s leading producers of technical textiles and nonwovens. © Eugene Gerden

Implementation of the project has already been confirmed by Alexander Melnikov, director of Baltex and vice-president of the Russian Union of Chemists.

At present the company is experiencing a shortage of raw materials, which is preventing a further increase in production, but the commissioning of a new factory should help to partially solve this problem.

Currently the level of utilization of the company’s production capacities is estimated at 30%, however there is a possibility that this figure will significantly increase in the coming years. The increase in production of raw materials will create conditions for a significant increase of production of technical textiles by the company by 2017-2018.

Expansion plans

At the same time, in addition to Baltex, other leading Russian producers of technical textiles and nonwovens, among which are Kuibyshevazot, Kurskhimvolokno as well as BTK Group, have also announced their plans for Russian expansion.

According to Arina Slynko, board member at BTK, one of Russia’s leading technical textiles producers, the company continues to increase personnel for its new plant, which is located in the city of Shahty (Rostov region) and will specialize in the production of technical textiles. There is a possibility that the new plant may be already commissioned by the end of the current year.

At the same time, implementation of another large-scale industry project has already been started. The project is being executed by the National Investment and Finance Corporation (NIFC), one of Russia’s largest investment corporations, and involves the establishment of a large cluster for the production of textile and technical textile products in the Russian Ryazan region.

Ambitious plans

The increase in production of technical textiles is part of the ambitious plans of the Russian government for the increase of the share of domestically made technical textiles – up to 80% of the local market by 2020.

Andrew Razbrodin, head of the Russian Union of Textile and Light Industry Producers (Soyuzlegprom). © Eugene Gerden

According to estimates by analysts of the Russian BTK Group, at present the Russian technical textiles market is estimated at RUB 70-80 billion (US$2 billion), of which the share of domestic production does not exceed 15% – 17%. The same situation is currently observed with the raw materials base, which is reflected by the fact that the share of imports of synthetic fibres and yarns in the domestic market is estimated at about 71%.

Currently the Russian market of technical textiles and nonwovens is still dominated by foreign companies, many of which are considering further expansion. For example, US headquartered DuPont plans to build several facilities for the production of technical textiles and nonwovens in some cities in Siberia.

There is a possibility that similar plans may soon be announced by the Finland’s Ahlstrom Oyj Corporation, one of the EU’s largest producers of glass fibre, which operates a plant for the production of glass cloth in the Tver region, which was opened in 2008.

At the same time US based companies Kimberly-Clark and Proctor & Gamble have been operating plants for the production of diapers in Russia and have also not ruled out the possibility of their expansion during the next few years.

So far, Russia has had only two projects, which have involved large-scale production of technical textiles, and in particular those, implemented by the BTK group in the Rostov region and a cluster for the production of polyester fibres in the Ivanovo region, which should be commissioned in 2016-2017.

The latter project is expected to be one of the most ambitious in the Russian technical textiles industry in recent years. According to Paul Konkov, the governor of the Ivanovo Region, local company Ivregionsintez, (which is responsible for the implementation of the project) has already completed investment documentation for the project and has already sent it for the consideration of Vnesheconombank, one of Russia’s largest banks, which is expected to provide the majority of funding for the project.

In the meantime, leading Russian analysts in the field of technical textiles and nonwovens have already welcomed the new project.

Andrew Razbrodin, head of the Russian Union of Textile and Light Industry Producers (Soyuzlegprom), comments: “Of course, this is an extremely promising project, however it’s currently too earlier to consider its prospects. If everything goes ahead the new production will be able to reach its design capacity during the next 3-4 years. In this case, any false move can easily ruin the whole process.”

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