UK businesses have been granted more time to pull out of contracts with sanctioned Russian state shipping company Sovcomflot (SCF Group).

The UK government has announced that the wind-down deadline has been extended from 15 May to 30 June under a general licence.

The European Union deadline was also set for 15 May for Russian company business.

UK protection and indemnity club West of England said it was not aware of any parallel extension of the EU licence.

“Those members who fall within the scope of EU sanctions are therefore advised to continue to comply with that deadline,” the club said.

The UK sanctioned Sovcomflot in March due to the Ukraine war.

In April, TradeWinds reported that the shipowner was closing its long-held office in London to comply.

Sovcomflot (UK) employed 17 staff at its Finsbury Square offices in central London. They worked under the leadership of Callum Ludgate, who has been employed by the company for 29 years and has been managing director since 2005.

The UK arm of the Russian shipowner has undertaken all the commercial management and chartering for the SCF Group, with a particular focus on the international account.

Business moved back to Moscow

It has acted as the primary chartering office for the whole fleet and is well known for its tanker and gas carrier business.

TradeWinds understands that this role has been taken back internally and the business migrated to Sovcomflot in Moscow.

Meanwhile, all members of the International Group of P&I Clubs are beginning to cut business ties with the owner.

TradeWinds had reported in April that several clubs have already started the process of withdrawing cover from the company.

The P&I mutuals have been keeping their business relationship with Sovcomflot a closely guarded secret since the invasion.

The main clubs that provided insurance cover to its vessels were Skuld, Gard, the North P&I Club, UK P&I Club and West of England, which stopped cover on 4 May.

Although the clubs had long-standing business ties with Sovcomflot, the relationship was no longer tenable once it was named by the UK as a sanctioned outfit.

The EU wind-down deadline has prompted reports that Sovcomflot could sell up to 40 ships to repay loans to European banks.

TradeWinds reported that Idan Ofer’s Eastern Pacific Shipping has already acquired four Sovcomflot LNG carriers for more than $700m in a sale led by Dutch lender ING.