First oil through Chechen pipeline soon

Jan 15, 1997 01:00 AM

Jan. 7, 1997 Russian and Azeri officials have agreed to improve trade and economic ties after disruption on their border caused by Russia's Chechen war and said they were confident Azeri oil would start flowing through Chechnya soon. Valery Chernyayev, head of the Russian pipeline company Transneft, told that the pipeline through Chechnya was "practically ready'' and a trial batch of Azeri oil would be sent to Russia shortly. But in Moscow the head of the oil company run by Chechnya's separatist leadership criticised Russia's energy ministry for dragging its feet in oil negotiations, which are among the most important for the peace process in the region. Russia is keen for a share of revenues from transporting oil from Azerbaijan's Caspian offshore fields to the Black Sea. The pipeline, damaged in the fighting, runs through Chechnya. A consortium including Western oil companies is planning to exploit the massive Caspian reserves, pumping oil along two routes, one through Russia, including Chechnya, and one through Georgia.

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