N’DJAMENA, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Chad’s government said it has shut down the country’s only oil refinery and will expel the plant’s director after joint-venture partner China National Petroleum Corp. refused to produce fuel at the government-set price.
The closure of the 20,000 barrel-per-day plant could exacerbate fuel shortages in the central African state’s capital N’Djamena, where petrol stations owners said they had not received new supplies in several days.
“We sent a joint team from the ministries of oil, trade, defence and security to notify of the closure of the refinery, because it has not produced any fuel since Dec. 23, 2011 and has thus not fulfilled its commitments,” Chad Commerce Minister Mahamat Allahou Taher told Reuters by telephone on Friday.
“We will also declare the director of the refinery, a Chinese national, persona non grata (in Chad) because he is the cause of all the difficulties we are facing at the moment.”
The 20,000 barrel per day plant, 60 percent owned by CNPC, has been idled intermittently since it was inaugurated in June as its leadership sought an increase in fuel prices to help it cover costs for crude oil feedstock.
“The pricing of petroleum products is deemed unreasonable, the refinery has suffered heavy losses and it is not able to continue normal operations,” CNPC said in a statement published in local newspapers on Friday.
The 588-million-euro ($758.07 million) refinery, which is 40 percent owned by state firm SHT, has lost $4.77 million since it opened, CNPC said. ($1 = 0.7757 euros) (Reporting by Madjiasra Nako; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Anthony Barker)