Home | News    Sunday 27 August 2006

Chad ousts two oil companies

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Aug 26, 2006 (N‘DJAMENA) — Chad‘s president on Saturday ordered oil companies Chevron Corp. and Petronas to leave the country, saying neither has paid taxes and his country will take responsibility for the oil fields they have overseen.

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Idriss Deby

"Chad has decided that as of tomorrow (Sunday), Chevron and Petronas must leave Chad because they have refused to pay their taxes," Deby said in a message broadcast on state-run radio.

Sabri Syed, a spokesman for Kuala Lumpur-based Petroliam Nasional Berhad, said he could not comment on Deby‘s announcement.

Mark D. Boudreaux, a spokesman for Exxon Mobil, told The Associated Press by e-mail that neither his company, nor affiliate Esso Chad has been asked to leave the country.

Earlier this year, Chad broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan and turned instead to China, a move that could help it sell its oil to the energy-hungry power.

The production and export of petroleum in Chad are overseen by the Exxon Mobil-led consortium. Under the mechanism, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. is responsible for 40 percent of the country‘s production, while Chevron and Petronas each have 30 percent.

The companies agreed to invest the money after the World Bank gave the project its blessing and after Chad passed a World Bank-backed oil revenues law that required most of the money to be allocated to health, education and infrastructure projects.

Chad itself earned $307 million, or about 12.5 percent, on each barrel exported.

Last month, the government reached a deal with the bank and signed an accord to commit 70 percent of its budget to poverty and development programs.

Deby‘s declaration came a day after he urged his citizens to take a more active role in the production of oil.

Chad government spokesman Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor told reporters on Friday that Deby wanted greater profits from oil production.

Deby has stressed that the country "should fully enjoy its oil, mining and other resources," Doumgor said.

Chad, which is not a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, has struggled with discontent over its poor economy, and unhappiness has intensified over the failure of an immediate boost from its oil field, which went online for development in 2003.

Unrest also has spilled over from Darfur, where Sudan‘s Arab-dominated government is accused of encouraging a campaign of destruction aimed at civilians in African farming villages that are the base for a three-year-old rebellion. Sudan charges that Chad supports the Darfur rebels. Chad, in turn, accuses Sudan of backing eastern Chad rebels.

(AP/ST)

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