N'Djamena, Chad — 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.
In remarks on state-run radio, President Idriss Deby gave the companies - part of the African country's oil production consortium that is led by Exxon Mobil - a deadline of just 24 hours to start making plans to leave.
Chad has decided that as of today, "Chevron and Petronas must leave Chad because they have refused to pay their taxes," Deby said in a message broadcast on state-run radio.
Deby said Chad, which is one of Africa's newest oil producers and is setting up a national oil company, would take over the oil fields that have been overseen by the American and Malaysian companies and account for some 60 percent of its oil production.
Sabri Syed, a spokesman for Kuala Lumpur-based Petroliam Nasional Berhad, said he could not comment.
Chevron said in a statement it had not been behind on any tax payments and had not been told it must leave Chad.
"Chevron has not received any official notification from the Republic of Chad government asking Chevron to leave the country over tax issues," it said. "However, Chevron has been in full compliance with all of our tax obligations."
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.
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, while Chevron and Petronas each have 30 percent.