Azeris Prepare to Use Grozny Pipeline

BAKU (Itar-Tass)–A top official at the Azerbaijan State Oil Company on Tuesday ruled out any possibility of "tough measures" against Russia in connection with its apparent failure to start transporting Azeri oil through its territory which according to previous agreemen’s was to begin Wednesday.

However–the company’s first vice-president–speaking to Tass–made it clear that while the government of Azerbaijan is not particularly worried about the delay in the beginning of oil transportation–it is looking forward to a faultless work of the 1,411 kilometer ‘Baku-Grozny-Tikhoretsk-Novorossiysk’ pipeline when Azerbaijan starts exporting big amounts of oil.

Meanwhile–the restoration works on the 153-kilometer Chechen part of the oil pipeline have just started.

Ibragimov told Tass that instead of planned 200,000 metric tons of oil–Azerbaijan is going to export through Russia 120,000 before the end of the year.

"This amount of petroleum has been already pumped into the Azerbaijan section of the pipeline–and is waiting for a ‘go ahead’ from the Russian side," he said.

Azerbaijan authorities including Prime Minister Artur Rasizade repeatedly reiterated that the country would find alternative ways for its oil provided Russia fails to fix its Chechen part of the pipeline.

Russia’s Transneft company recently suggested transporting the oil by sea to Astrakhan and Volgograd with further compensation of the same amounts of oil to the Azeri side in Novorossiisk.

"We have rejected this proposal because we could find possibilities to deliver oil to world markets ourselves," Ibragimov said.

It is planned that the Russian–or "northern," pipeline will transport up to five million tons of oil from the Chirag oil field in the Caspian Sea.

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