MOSCOW -- The Rusal aluminum company of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska on Friday halted production at a disputed Nigerian plant whose ownership was awarded to a U.S. company last year.

Rusal said it was suspending operations at the Alscon smelter because the Nigerian government never followed through on a promise to provide it with sustainable gas supplies.

"Today, despite all measures undertaken by the company, Alscon does not have a reliable and continuous gas supply," Rusal said..

"Aluminum production at the plant is deeply loss-making, which renders it impossible to fully utilize the existing capacities."

Nigeria's highest court had stripped Rusal of its ownership of the formerly state-run Alscon in 2012 and awarded the smelter to the US group BFI.

Rusal disputed the decision and kept its claim on the plant. It won control of its operations in December 2006 and now owns an 85% stake.

The Russian giant posted a net loss of $55 million for 2012 following lackluster demand for metal and falling prices.

It has repeatedly vowed to eliminate loss-making enterprises in a bid to make production more efficient.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013