Baku – APA-Economics. Exxon Mobil Corp. was ordered to pay a record $74 billion fine in Chad for underpaying royalties in the central African nation where the company has been drilling for 15 years, according to a court document, Bloomberg reported.
The fine is about five times more than Chad’s gross domestic product, which the World Bank estimates at $13 billion. The High Court in the capital, N’Djamena, announced its ruling Oct. 5 in response to a complaint from the Finance Ministry that a consortium led by Exxon hadn’t met its tax obligations. The court also demanded the Texas-based oil explorer pay $819 million in overdue royalties, according to the document.
Exxon, the world’s biggest oil producer by market value, began exploring Chad for crude in 2001 and has been pumping oil there since 2003. The company also operates a pipeline that hauls Chadian oil to a marine terminal in Cameroon for export. The two other companies named in the case are Chevron Corp. and Malaysia’s state-owned Petroliam Nasional Bhd. Chevron sold its stake in Chad in 2014 and spokeswoman Isabel Ordonez declined to comment.
“We disagree with the Chadian court’s ruling and are evaluating next steps,” Exxon spokesman Todd Spitler said by e-mail Thursday. “This dispute relates to disagreement over commitments made by the government to the consortium, not the government’s ability to impose taxes,” he said in a later e-mail, declining to comment on the $74 billion figure.
The president of the court, Brahim Abbo Abakar, confirmed the ruling by phone on Thursday.
“It’s correct, however, the provisional enforcement is lower than the amount demanded by the tribunal,” he said, referring to the sum of $669 million also cited in the document. He didn’t elaborate.
President Idriss Deby in 2006 gave Chevron and Petronas 24 hours to leave the country, accusing them of not having paid taxes. They denied the allegations and the case was later settled.