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Chechnya: Chechens Seek Stake In Caspian Oil Consortium

Baku, 18 December 1996 (RFE/RL) -- A delegation from Chechnya's self-proclaimed government met with the head of an international consortium yesterday to demand a share of a lucrative development project for Caspian Sea oil.

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

The Chechen delegates met today in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, with consortium president Terry Adams. Our correspondent in Baku quotes Ruslan Abdurzakov, a representative of the Chechen self-proclaimed government, as saying the Chechens are demanding a share of the project. Abdurzakov was a member of the Chechen negotiating team at yesterday's meeting.

Adams said Chechnya's claims must be discussed with Azerbaijani and Russian officials. The consortium decided on the two routes in October 1995. The other one leads west through Georgia.

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

Separatists now essentially control Chechnya after fighting a war to break from Russia. The separatists see the pipeline as a key to economic independence.