Russia reduces crude supply to Belarus, cites leak

MOSCOW, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Russian crude oil pipeline monopoly Transneft has cut pressure in part of the Druzhba export pipeline to Europe, reducing oil supplies to Belarus, the company said on Thursday.

"On Sept. 18 at the 39-km section of the pipeline Druzhba-2 between Unecha and Mozyr, there was an oil leak," Transneft said in its statement.

"As a result of the examination of the pipeline's technical state, the company had to reduce pressure at the section from Sept. 29," it added.

The company has started tests on the pipeline and is expected to make a decision on permissible level of pressure in December, the statement said.

The pressure was reduced at different parts of the section by 3-10 percent, Transneft vice-president Sergei Grigoryev told Reuters.

He could not say by how much crude supplies to Belarus would be cut, since exact volumes would depend on oil exporters themselves. But a market source told Reuters supplies could be cut by at least 500,000 tonnes (3.665 million barrels).

In the third quarter, Russian crude supplies to Belarus amounted to 4.5 million tonnes.

LUKOIL , one of the crude suppliers to the ex-Soviet country, said it was going to cut deliveries by 30 percent in the fourth quarter compared with 600,000 tonnes it had planned in the third quarter.

Other Russian crude suppliers to Belarus include Rosneft , Surgutneftegas , TNK-BP , Slavneft and Tatneft .

The crude earlier assigned for Belarus will be rerouted to other destinations where Transneft has spare capacity, Grigoryev said.

Russia suspended crude supplies to Lithuania from August, blaming a pipeline leak, which analysts said was an attempt by the Kremlin to punish Vilnius after it allowed Poland's PKN Orlen to buy Lithuania's Mazeikiu Nafta oil refinery, a takeover target of several Russian oil firms.