CORRECTED-UPDATE 2-Russia's Rusal may delay aluminium project to help ease glut

Tue Aug 20, 2013 3:32am EDT

(Corrects paragraph 3 of Aug. 19 story to show Alcoa is temporarily cutting production in Brazil, not suspending production)

* May postpone start of production at Boguchansk smelter

* Plans bigger output cut in face of global supply glut

* Q2 recurring net loss $208 mln vs forecast $142 mln loss

* Company blames falling prices, lower production

By Adam Jourdan and Polina Devitt

SHANGHAI/MOSCOW, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Russia's Rusal , the world's largest aluminium producer by output, may delay the start of production at one of its biggest projects, seeking to ease a global glut of the metal.

Rusal , led by Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska, and other big aluminium makers are cutting output in response to record inventories and stubbornly low prices of aluminium, used in vehicles and packaging.

U.S. producer Alcoa Inc, Rusal's main rival, said last week it is temporarily cutting production at smelters in Brazil as part of a review of its capacity.

Rusal reported a steeper-than-expected loss for the second quarter earlier on Monday and said it may postpone the start of production at its Boguchansk smelter in Siberia to 2014.

"Very probable that we would not start it this year and postpone it till the next year," first deputy chief executive Vladislav Soloviev told a conference call with analysts.

Rusal said it would cut aluminium output by 357,000 tonnes, or around 8.5 percent of production, more than the 7 percent previously planned, as it seeks to support prices near four-year lows.

"Our industry remains in a crisis of its own making with oversupply leading to excess of stock overhanging the market," Deripaska said in a statement.

George Buzhenitsa, an analyst at Deutsche Bank in Moscow, estimates the global aluminium surplus at 750,000 tonnes this year and at 1.75 million tonnes in 2014, excluding 5.4 million tonnes in stockpiles held at London Metal Exchange warehouses.

Rusal said it plans to produce about 3.8 million tonnes of aluminium this year and about 3.7 million tonnes in 2014, down from 4.2 million tonnes in 2012.

The 588,000 tonne-per-year Boguchansk smelter had been expected to pour its first metal later this year.

Rusal has already invested $862 million in Boguchansk and would need to spend another $749 million to complete the first phase of the smelter, which has a capacity of about 300,000 tonnes.

"It is the only possible decision, taking into account the current market situation," Buzhenitsa said, commenting on the potential project delay.

However, attempts by producers to cut global aluminium supply may not be enough as proposed rule changes for industrial metals warehouses and increased scrutiny by regulators could unleash stored aluminium, putting further downward pressure on prices.

The price of aluminium, hit four-year lows below $1,800 a tonne in late June. Prices have since recovered to $1,924 but are still down more than 6 percent for the year.

Rusal reported a recurring second-quarter net loss of $208 million, due to falling prices and lower output, compared with a revised profit of $125 million a year earlier.

The company had been expected to post a loss of about $142 million, according to banks and brokerages polled by Reuters.

Recurring net profit is defined as adjusted net profit plus the company's net effective share in Russian miner Norilsk Nickel.

Shares in Hong Kong-listed Rusal closed 0.8 percent higher on Monday. (Additional reporting by Melanie Burton and Hong Kong newsroom; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Erica Billingham)

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