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Norwegian Bunkerers Refuse to do Business With Russian Yacht

The crew of the superyacht Ragnar are stranded aboard their luxurious vessel at the port of Narvik, Norway, unable to go home because no one will sell them fuel.

Ragnar belongs to the businessman and former Soviet intelligence agent Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, longtime head of Russian nickel and platinum mining company Nornickel. He retired from his post in 2012 with a payout of $100 million, and his net worth is believed to be in the nine digits. Though he is believed to have historical ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he is not a high-profile member of Russia's ruling class, and he has not yet been sanctioned by the U.S. or the EU.

The lack of an official ban on Strzhalkovsky does not appear to be helping the Ragnar, as the owners of local bunkering companies are not interested in doing business with any Russian oligarch's yacht. The vessel has been in port since February 15, and more than a month later, Ragnar has not been able to leave for her return voyage to Malta.

"The yacht Ragnar has been unable to leave Norway due to discrimination from local fuel suppliers, who refuse to fuel Ragnar," the yacht's British captain wrote in an open letter pasted up on the quay. "We have had further discrimination from the mayor of Narvik and the Norwegian government . . . they are very happy to discriminate against this yacht for publicity in the current climate."

Local fuel suppliers have shown little sympathy for this argument.

"I have nothing left for the Russians' conduct in Ukraine," said Sven Holmlund, head of a bunkering firm in Narvik, speaking to NRK. "Why should we help them? They can row home. Or use sails."

"We know what is going on in Ukraine. Therefore, on a general basis, we have chosen to say no to all Russian boats," echoed Gunnar Gran, head of Haltbakk Bunkers. "We do not want to get into a situation where we in one way or another contribute to the Russian economy."

Four of the yacht's crewmembers have been laid off because Ragnar's latest pleasure charter was canceled. While the Ragnar waits, she has shore power and access to provisions, and the remaining crew may avail themselves of shore leave - though they are reportedly wary of local hostility. None of them are Russian nationals.

Ragnar is a 77 meter exploration yacht conversion based on the hull of a small icebreaker. She is rated at ice class 1A Super, capable of continuous operation in 1.5 feet of ice, and she was redelivered in her modified state in 2020.

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