After weeks of speculation, the Kimek Shipyard in Norway’s northern city of Kirkenes has felt forced to resort to major layoffs. The yard specialized in repairing Russian fishing boats, but now that violates sanctions and is no longer allowed.
“This is incredibly sad,” local mayor Lena Norum Bergeng told state broadcaster NRK. The shipyard is a major local employer and had full orderbooks, but Kimek’s board felt forced to lay off 30 of Kimek’s roughly 80 employees. Bergeng fears they’ll leave Kirkenes, at a time when it’s especially important to keep Northern Norway and areas near the Russian border populated.
As the Kirkenes-based Barents Observer reported in May, Russian fishing vessels are only allowed to make port calls in Tromsø, Kirkenes and Båtsfjord for specific functions that no longer include repair and maintenance. That’s hitting Kimek hard, and both the yard and local officials are hoping for more assistance from the Norwegian government.
Around NOK 105 million was targeted for Øst-Finnmark in the government’s state budget compromise with the Socialist Left Party (SV), but the money isn’t directed at Kimek itself. “The government wants activity, jobs, and that people can live and thrive in the far north,” Eivind Vad Petersson, state seretary in the foreign ministry, told NRK, but he added that the funds are for the community in general, “not necessarily individual companies.”