Belarus to alter Druzhba oil flows -agency

MOSCOW, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Belarus and Ukraine will reverse oil flows along part of the Europe-bound Druzhba pipeline, allowing Venezuelan crude from Odessa to reach Belarus, its BELTA agency reported, citing Deputy PM Vladimir Semashko.

"At the end of October or the beginning of November the task lies in front of us to send a trial shipment...of 80,000 tonnes," Semashko said in the town of Gomel, the agency reported.

The Druzhba pipeline also carries Russian crude to several eastern European nations, but reversing part of the pipeline will reduce volumes, analysts said.

Belarus is increasing its oil imports from Venezuela, spending more than it would on crude from neighbouring Russia, as Minsk is keen to diversify supplies because of strained relations with Moscow. [ID:nLDE66E1TG]

Belarus's Mozyr refinery currently receives Venezuelan imports by rail from ports on the Baltic and Black Seas. But reversing the pipeline flow will enable Belarus to save $25-30 per tonne on transportation costs, said Semashko.

"We have signed all the related documents according to which we will start pumping Venezuelan oil, if not in December of this year then in January 2011 through the pipeline from Odessa to Brody," said Semashko.

"This will give us the ability to fully abandon oil deliveries by rail," he said.

The pipeline running from the Black Sea port in Odessa, north west to the Ukrainian town of Brody links up across the border in Belarus with the main Druzhba pipeline that Russia uses to transport crude westward toward Central Europe.

(Reporting by Alfred Kueppers; Writing by Jessica Bachman; Editing by Toni Vorobyova and Elizabeth Fullerton)


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