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First Oil From Azerbaijan Delayed

October 15, 1997

BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) _ Initial oil production by an international consortium working in lucrative Caspian Sea fields has been pushed back to late October, a spokeswoman for the group said Wednesday.

The Azerbaijan International Operating Co., or AIOC, had planned to start production from its Chirag-1 oilfield on Aug. 28 before pushing its target date back to early and then mid-October.

The latest delay, to Oct. 25, results partly from the crash this month of a helicopter chartered by the state oil company of Azerbaijan, in southwest Asia, said AIOC spokeswoman Tamam Bayatli. A crane normally used to help pump oil was used to help lift the helicopter from the Caspian sea bed, she said.

Twenty-one people were killed and only one survived the Oct. 2 crash.

The Caspian Sea’s oil reserves are believed to be second only to those in the Middle East. Efforts to get the oil to world markets have been delayed by the lack of a reliable export pipeline network in the region.

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