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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Minister Calls for Closure of Troubled Pipeline

Russia's fuel and energy minister said Wednesday that a key oil pipeline passing near the restive territory of Chechnya should be shut down following a recent explosion and frequent attacks on the line.

After Monday's blast in the southern Russian republic of Dagestan, officials said the pipeline would be shut off indefinitely. The line carries oil from Baku, Azerbaijan, on the Caspian Sea, to Novorossiisk, Russia, on the Black Sea.

Fuel and Energy Minister Viktor Kalyuzhny said Wednesday that the pipeline should be abandoned permanently and alternative routes should be sought, Interfax reported.

"It's an extreme measure, but there is no other way," Kalyuzhny was quoted as telling a meeting of oil executives in Moscow.

There is only one other pipeline that stretches from the oil-rich Caspian region to the Black Sea, where the oil is then transported to world markets. The United States is pushing for another pipeline running Caspian oil westward through Turkey, bypassing restive regions in Russia.

Kalyuzhny didn't suggest any other alternative route. The head of the Transneft pipeline monopoly, Dmitry Savelyev, told the Wednesday meeting that one possibility would be to transport oil through Dagestan by rail, Interfax reported.

The pipeline is often shut down because of fires or damage caused by attackers from separatist Chechnya and by individuals seeking to steal oil from the line.