Russia Will Stick to Azeri Oil Deal Offical Says

MOSCOW (Reuter)–Russia will carry out all obligations under a deal to deliver early Azeri oil to Black Sea ports despite disagreemen’s with its rebel region of Chechnya over a crucial pipeline–a senior official said Monday.

Interfax news agency quoted First Deputy Energy Minister Sergei Kiriyenko as saying that Moscow and Chechnya failed to sign an agreement on Monday on the joint use of the pipeline expected to take Azeri oil to the Russian port of Novorossiisk.

"Even if the deal with Chechnya is never signed–Russia will take extra measures to meet its obligations," Kiriyenko said after a day of fruitless talks with Chechen delegation.

Russia’s deal with Azerbaijan to start pumping oil from October 1–has been soured by the lack of agreement on the 95-mile sector of the pipe running through Chechnya.

Chechnya–devastated by war with Russia–wants Moscow to compensate the reconstruction of the pipe and deman’s higher transport fees.

Kiriyenko said First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov ordered Russian experts to work out a plan under which 200,000 metric tons of Azeri oil will be taken on tankers by the Caspian Sea to refineries in Russia’s Volga region.

Under the plan the similar amount of Russian oil will be supplied to Novorossiisk as replacement.

"This option will not solve problems of strategic importance but it will give us a chance to meet our obligations,” he said.

Kiriyenko added anyhow that talks with the Chechen delegation will resume in the next few days.


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