(Changes headline, writes through)
MOSCOW, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Russian oil exports to neighbouring Belarus are expected to be 4 million tonnes in the first quarter, officials at Russia’s pipeline monopoly Transneft said on Friday, down from the 4.5 million tonnes planned initially.
According to a preliminary schedule, seen by Reuters last month, Russian oil exports to Belarus, a former Soviet republic, had been expected to rise to 4.5 million tonnes in the first quarter from 3 million tonnes in the previous three months.
On Friday, Maxim Grishanin, Transneft’s first deputy president, said the plans called for 4 million tonnes in the first quarter.
Russia has had a long history of oil and gas rows with its neighbours, notably with Ukraine and Belarus.
Belarus has complained that a gas price of $132 per 1,000 cubic meters set by Russian gas group Gazprom in the past few months is too high and has been paying less for gas deliveries since the start of last year. Russia has said Belarus owes around $300 million in gas payments.
Transneft and Russia’s Energy Ministry have both said the export schedule reflected planned allocations and that actual volumes exported might differ.
Transneft’s vice-president, Sergei Andronov, also told reporters that the company expected crude oil exports to countries outside of the former Soviet Union to be flat year-on-year in 2017.
Transneft also plans to ship 2.4 million tonnes of oil products to non-Russian Baltic ports in 2017, down from 3.2 million tonnes in 2016, Andronov said. Diesel exports via the North pipeline in the Baltic Sea were expected to be 16.8 million tonnes this year, up from 15.2 million tonnes in 2016. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, writing by Maria Tsvetkova, editing by Jack Stubbs and Jane Merriman)