Oil flows in Chechnya

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The Independent Online
Russian and Chechen officials officially opened yesterday the Chechen section of an international oil pipeline seen as crucial for rebuilding the shattered economy of the breakaway Caucasus region.

The 600-mile pipeline links Azerbaijan's offshore Caspian Sea fields to Russia's Black Sea port of Novorosiisk. The Chechen section was badly damaged during a 1994-96 war between Russian troops and separatist guerrillas.

The brief ceremony came a day after the Azerbaijan International Operating Company, an $8bn consortium of world oil giants, said it had started pumping the first crude through the pipeline.