Caspian oil pipeline ready

Jan 11, 1997 01:00 AM

The pipeline to export Caspian Sea oil from Azerbaijan's offshore fields through Chechnya and Russia is ready to operate. All the partners in the $ 7.5 bn project to develop three offshore fields -- Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR, Russian pipeline operator Transneft and a consortium of foreign oil companies -- agreed the pipeline was ready, SOCAR president Natiq Aliyev said. The first shipment could be between March and April, Aliyev said. The pipeline runs from the Azerbaijani capital Baku, through the war-torn region of Chechnya and to the southern Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, where the oil will be loaded onto tankers for export. Chechnya's separatist government and Moscow have yet to agree on how to manage Chechnya's stretch of the pipeline. As part of the peace accord ending a 21-month war, the Chechens want to share the profits from the lucrative transit, and Moscow had agreed to negotiate an accord on this by the start of December 1996. However, the Chechens accuse Moscow of refusing to reach an accord.

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