Chad’s oil minister said on Saturday he wanted a U.S.-led oil consortium to pay at least $100 million by Tuesday to circumvent a World Bank freeze on oil profits or else crude production would be halted.
The World Bank has frozen oil profits from a pipeline in Chad saved in a London escrow account in a dispute over how the revenues are spent. The savings include royalties from the pipeline’s operator, Exxon Mobi.
“We want at least $100 million paid by Tuesday midday,” Oil Minister Mahamat Nasser Hassan told Reuters, adding production would be halted if the money was not received.
“We have asked Exxon Mobil, Petronas and Chevron to put the money directly in the state treasury account. If they do not agree by Tuesday midday, we will stop oil production,” he said.
As well as freezing the escrow account, the World Bank suspended loans to Chad on Jan. 12, saying the government had breached an agreement with the bank when it changed a law to access oil profits that were meant to benefit the poor.
Chad, which produces 160,000 and 170,000 barrels of crude per day, threatened on Friday to stop production if it failed to reach an agreement with the bank to end the dispute by Tuesday.
The central African country is in a state of heightened alert after rebels attacked the capital N’Djamena early on Thursday in the boldest assault yet by fighters who have vowed to end President Idriss Deby’s nearly 16-year rule.
Deby has in the past said Chad needed the oil revenues to help bolster national security to face attacks from rebels and the spillover of the war in neighbouring Sudan’s Darfur region.