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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Volgotanker: Tax Row Halting Shipments

The start of Russia's season for fuel oil shipment by river to export ports has been paralyzed for the past week due to a tax dispute between the state and the biggest shipper.

Volgotanker, Europe's largest carrier of products by river, said Wednesday that it had not able to begin shipments of fuel oil to Russia's southern ports, while the start of shipments to northern ports from May was also under threat.

"We are having trouble opening the river navigation season as our accounts are frozen and we are banned from carrying out any transactions," Volgotanker vice president Andrei Kleimyonov said in an interview.

He said the firm's board would meet Thursday to discuss the situation.

In February, Volgotanker called on the state to take it over, saying this was the only way to save the firm.

Once part of the Yukos oil empire, Volgotanker is now management-owned but struggling to survive under a back tax claim of around 3.3 billion rubles ($120.3 million).

Volgotanker has in the past handled 30 percent of inland cargoes destined for export, plying routes between refineries in central Russia to export ports, such as St. Petersburg. Its operations peak in summer months when rivers thaw and refiners switch from railways to ship more fuel oil to ports for export.