Ship firm Oldendorff halting Guyana operation due to Rusal crisis

LONDON (Reuters) - German shipping group Oldendorff Carriers is stopping its business in Guyana, the company said on Friday, after the United States blacklisted Russian aluminum producer Rusal, which has a plant in the South American country.

The United States on April 6 imposed sanctions against Russian entities and individuals to punish Moscow for its alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and what the U.S. Treasury Department dubbed other “malign activity”.

Since then, the world’s two biggest container lines -Denmark’s Maersk and Switzerland’s MSC - have suspended trade with sanctions-hit Russian entities.

Oldendorff, which has a large fleet of dry bulk cargo ships, said in a statement sent to Reuters on Friday it would “fully comply with U.S. sanctions and therefore will be winding up its business in Guyana in a timely manner”, declining to provide any further details.

Rusal’s 90 percent owned Bauxite Company of Guyana produced 1.05 million tonnes of bauxite - the raw material used to make aluminum - last year.

Oldendorff’s website said the group in 2005 signed a long-term contract with an unnamed large industrial client for a bauxite trans-shipment operation on the Berbice River in Guyana.

That operation used purpose-built barges and tug boats to transport bauxite downstream to ocean-going ships.

Oldendorff said on its website it usually handled the onward transportation of the bauxite to Ukraine, Ireland and the United States.

Rusal, the world’s second biggest aluminum producer behind China Hongqiao Group Ltd, is heavily dependent on its international network of mines and refineries.

U.S. sanctions imposed on Rusal have started to cripple the company’s extensive string of international operations from Sweden to Guinea to Australia.

Reporting by Jonathan Saul; Editing by Mark Potter