UPDATE 1-Belarus says Russia agrees to supply more crude oil

Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:43am EST

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(Adds details on loan talks, no comment from Transneft)

* President says Russia agreed to supply 23 mln T next year

* Lukashenko also says asked Moscow for $2 bln loan

* Russia pipeline company Transneft declines comment

MINSK, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Belarus has secured an increase in Russian crude supplies next year and asked Moscow for a $2 billion loan to upgrade its ageing industrial assets, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Friday.

Belarus has been asking Russia for 23 million tonnes of crude oil, or about 460,000 bpd, up from 21.5 million tonnes promised this year.

The crude is supplied free of Russia's normally hefty export duties - meaning it is effectively subsidised - and in return Moscow wants quantities of oil products at a favourable price.

Moscow, which has accused its partner of exporting refined oil products to the West rather than shipping them back to Russia, was offering only 18 million tonnes of crude, an effective cut.

"We have really agreed on the supply of 23 million (tonnes)," Belarussian state news agency BelTA quoted Lukashenko as saying on Friday. "We will get the oil without any issues."

Russia's oil pipeline monopoly Transneft declined to comment on the agency report.

Belarus has two large oil refineries that process Russian crude and export gasoline and diesel.

The refining business earns vital hard currency but Moscow has occasionally bridled over supply terms, part of a complex arrangement that also covers pipeline supplies of Russian oil and gas to Europe via Belarussian pipelines.

Lukashenko said in an interview last month that in exchange for increased supplies Russia was demanding a guaranteed delivery of 2-3 million tonnes of refined products back from Belarussian refineries.

Russia may find itself short of gasoline next year after introducing new, more stringent fuel standards, as its own refiners have fallen behind schedule on investments needed to improve the quality of their products.

Hinting at a further improvement in Minsk's ties with Moscow, Lukashenko on Friday told BelTA the sides were discussing a $2 billion loan to finance an upgrade of Belarussian industrial enterprises.

He did not say when Moscow, which already provided a $3 billion bailout facility to Minsk last year through a regional fund, could approve and disburse the fresh loan.

Belarus, which suffered from a balance-of-payments crisis in 2011, faces a foreign debt repayment crunch next year when about $3 billion of its liabilities fall due. (Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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