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Russian insurers expect $107 mln claim after satellite failure

MOSCOW, May 22 (RIA Novosti) - Insurers are expecting losses of $107 million after the Express AM-22, a Russian communications satellite, malfunctioned, the head of a Russian insurance company's international space risk program said Thursday.

"Insurers are expecting an announcement of the total loss of this space apparatus. The Express AM-22 currently has problems with its stabilization system leading to increased fuel consumption. If the satellite is declared a total loss, the insurance claim will be $107 million," Dmitry Medvedchikov of the Russian Insurance Center company said.

Communications and broadcasting satellite Express AM-22, orbited in December 2003 and put into operation in March 2004, was designed to provide a wide range of Internet and communications services, digital data transmission and broadcast TV and radio programs.

Medvedchikov also told the conference that the Russian space insurance segment had suffered significant losses on the international insurance market. He said insurance premiums for Russian companies would increase due to a number of accidents involving Russian carrier rockets.

He said accidents involving Zenit and Proton carrier rockets in 2007 cost insurers $450 million from a total of $625 million received as space risk insurance premiums.

Medvedchikov also said Russian insurers planned to increase insurance premiums for the launch of carrier rockets following a rise in the number of accidents involving boosters, adding that the main question was how much and how rapidly insurance rates increased.

"The international market is expecting further accidents involving Russian carrier rockets. Russian insurers have no other option but to increase tariffs, as the international space insurance market will raise prices and introduce tougher terms for Russian carriers than Western customers," he said.

Since 2005, there have been nine accidents involving Russian rockets and the situation with satellites is no better. Medvedchikov said that over 12 satellites have either experienced problems in orbit, or have been close to being declared a total loss since 2006.

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