Image via The Edge

A High Court in Chad has ruled that an Exxon Mobil Corp-led consortium, which includes Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), underpaid royalties and ordered Exxon to pay a record US$74bil (RM306.4bil) fine.

A Bloomberg report, citing a court document, said the High Court in the African republic’s capital, N’Djamena, announced its ruling on Oct 5 in response to a Finance Ministry complaint that the consortium hadn’t met its tax obligations.

The court also demanded the Texas-based oil giant pay US$819mil (RM3.4bil) in overdue royalties, the document said.

Bloomberg noted that the US$74bil fine was about five times more than Chad’s gross domestic product and exceeded the fines of US$61.6bil (RM255.2bil) slapped on BP Plc after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

The two other companies named in the case are Petronas and Chevron Corp.

Petronas is believed to have a 35% stake in the Exxon-led project, which is located at the Doba basin in southern Chad. Chevron, meanwhile, sold its 25% stake to the Chadian government in 2014.

Petronas has been involved in a tax dispute in Chad previously (in 2006), which led Chadian president Idriss Deby to order it and Chevron to leave the country. However, the two oil firms settled the matter.