Chad ordered Chevron and Petronas on Saturday to leave the country within 24 hours for failing to honour tax obligations, in a move apparently motivated by a desire to earn more from its oil.
"From tomorrow, the representatives of Chevron and Petronas must leave Chad and close their offices," Idriss Deby, president of the central African nation, told a government meeting.
The surprise move followed Chad's decision to create a new national oil company, which it said should become a partner in the country's existing oil-producing consortium, led by U.S. major Exxon Mobil and including Chevron and Petronas.
Landlocked Chad, which began pumping crude in 2003, produces around 160,000-170,000 bpd but most of its people remain poor.
Deby said the government had asked Chevron and Petronas this month to honour corporate tax obligations in their contracts.
"Unfortunately the government has received no reaction from the two partners," Deby said.
"Chad must get involved in the production of its oil to control its wealth and develop and increase its participation in the (consortium) pipeline," Deby said, referring to a 250,000 barrels per day pipeline to the Cameroon coast.
Under the 1988 agreement with the foreign consortium, Chad gets 12.5 percent of the wellhead value of total production, before quality discount and the cost of sending it through the pipeline to Cameroon's Kribi terminal.
"Despite the rise in the price of a barrel, now estimated at around $70, Chad doesn't get much from its oil revenues," Deby told the meeting with government ministers and political parties.
"In less than three years of exploitation the consortium has earned $5 billion for a $3 billion investment. In contrast, Chad has just received crumbs: $588 million, just 12.5 percent."
The current and former ministers who had handled Chad's oil negotiations are being dismissed. They would answer before the courts on charges they had sent letters to the two foreign oil firms advising them not to pay the taxes, Deby said.
Deby, whose needs increased oil revenues to tackle a security threat from eastern rebels and also poverty, has called the original 1988 oil development deal "a fool's agreement" and called for its renegotiation.
A Transparency International survey last year ranked Chad the world's most corrupt state.
- 185 Corruption