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African Oil Producer Chad Faces Instability As President Dies

Chad’s President Idriss Déby has died of injuries sustained in a clash with rebels over the weekend, the army of the central African oil producer said on Tuesday in what could be another flare-up of instability on the continent that has seen militant-related violence in the biggest producers, Nigeria and Libya.

Déby, 68, was president of Chad for more than 30 years and had just won earlier this month a sixth term in office with nearly 80 percent of the votes.

Déby was an ally of the Western powers in the fight against Jihadist insurgents in central Africa. According to the BBC, the management of Déby’s government of the oil resources in Chad has faced growing dissatisfaction. 

Déby was visiting soldiers on the front lines battling rebels this weekend when the soldiers were attacked by militants from the Front pour l’Alternance et la Concorde au Tchad (FACT) (Front for Change and Concord in Chad), who had arrived from their base in Libya the previous weekend, according to The Africa Report. Déby was injured on Sunday and flown to the capital, but later died of his injuries.

Following the death of the president, Chad’s parliament and government have been dissolved, while a military council led by the late president’s son—Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, 37—will govern the country over the next 18 months.

Related: Oil And Gas Bankruptcies Jump Despite Rise In Crude Prices

According to reports, Mahamat Déby declared a two-week national mourning period and imposed a curfew, while the military decided to close land and air borders “until further notice.”

Instability in Chad, which borders Libya to the north and Nigeria via Lake Chad to the southwest, is bad news for the safety and stability of oil output in Africa.

Chad is a relatively small producer. According to U.S. government data, Chad ranks as the tenth-largest oil reserve holder in Africa, with 1.5 billion barrels of proven reserves as of 2018 and production of over 140,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2020. Petroleum is Chad’s primary source of public revenue, and around 90 percent of oil production is exported. U.S. supermajor ExxonMobil has a project in Chad which includes oilfields in southern Chad and a pipeline system to transport crude oil to a marine terminal in Cameroon for export. Oil production in Chad is dominated by the China National Petroleum Company in Chad (CNPCIC), the ExxonMobil-led Esso Exploration & Production Chad consortium, Glencore, and Taiwanese Chinese Petroleum Corp, operating as OPIC.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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