MOSCOW, April 4 (Reuters) - Russia’s Transneft has the technical capacity to pump 24 million tonnes of oil to Belarus this year and could start pumping additional volumes from April, an official at the oil pipeline monopoly told Reuters on Tuesday.
On Monday, Russia agreed to restore oil supplies to Belarus to 24 million tonnes after Minsk said it would pay off debt owed to Russian natural gas exporter Gazprom.
Transneft could pump extra oil if it receives requests from oil companies, Igor Demin said.
While most companies have already planned April exports and booked vessels for the shipments, Demin said some still had resources that they could export to Belarus this month.
To do so, Russia’s Energy Ministry must issue additional allocations for exports to Belarus above the current quota.
Transneft also must receive a message from Belarusian refineries that they are able to process 20 million tonnes of crude oil in the April-December period, Demin said.
Russian companies have an allocation to export 4 million tonnes of crude oil to Belarus in April-June.
Russia earlier cut first-quarter oil supply plans to four million tonnes from a planned 4.5 million due to a dispute over natural gas.
Some traders say increasing exports to Belarus would help Transneft overcome possible shortages of export capacity at Russian ports. (Reporting by Olga Yagova and Katya Golubkova; editing by Sujata Rao and Jason Neely)