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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechens Eye Pipeline Share

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- A delegation from Chechnya's separatist government met with the head of an international consortium Tuesday to demand a share of a lucrative development project for Caspian Sea oil, a news agency reported.

The Azerbaijan International Operating Co. is developing the rich reserves under the Caspian and plans to export the oil on two routes -- one running through Chechnya en route from Azerbaijan north to Russia's Black Sea port of Novorossiisk.

Chechen separatists now essentially control their Caucasus Mountains republic after a bloody war to break from Russia. An August peace deal ended the heavy fighting, but the issue of Chechen independence remains unresolved.

The separatists see the pipeline as a key to economic independence.

On Tuesday, Chechen delegates met with the consortium's president, Terry Adams, in Baku, Azerbaijan's Turan news agency reported.

"We told Mr. Adams that Chechnya must have a share in the project for transportation of oil through our territory," Chechen delegate Edward Khachukayev told Turan.

"Or else, oil will not be transported on the Baku-Novorossiisk route. Moreover, it will not be transported through another route in the North Caucasus,'' he was quoted as saying.

Adams said Chechnya's claims must be discussed with Azerbaijani and Russian officials, the report said.

The consortium decided on the two routes in October 1995. The other leads west through Georgia.

Early shipments are set to begin in mid-1997. They will start at about 70,000 barrels a day, increasing to 700,000 barrels a day by 2000.

The consortium has had to satisfy various nations competing for influence and transit fees along the lucrative route.