The desire to control oil wealth plays a hidden role in the ongoing conflict in Chad, where production of black gold, even if it is not enormous, is a gift from heaven for this country considered as one of the poorest countries in the black continent.
According to "Africa Energy Intelligence", a magazine specialized in the field of energy in Africa, oil plays an important role in the conflict between the regime in Chad headed by Idriss Deby and the rebels seeking to seize power.
In its editorial this week, the magazine explains that this conflict, even if it looks like a "political" one, reflects the existence of old hatreds between the different parties and "new sources of income" that rebels believe that it must be shared.
For his part, Nicolas Sarkis, an expert in the field of energy, wrote in an article published by the magazine "Arab Oil and gas" that the Oil "plays an extremely important role in the conflict in Chad, where the state is very poor and has very limited resources at a time when oil is certainly the main source of income in the country". Sarkis said that the Chadian opposition says that the government has squandered the country's wealth.
According to Philippe Augon, a researcher at "Aris Foundation" and a specialist in African economy, a large portion of oil revenues in Chad was used in investments related to armaments and to enrich people close to President of Chad, while the rebels want their share of such income.
Oil revenues of Chad were a matter of agreement between N'Djamena and the World Bank. Under this agreement, N'Djamena must devote 70% of oil revenues to finance a pipeline of 1000km in length to link between "Duba" in Chad and the port of "Kribi" in Cameroon. The main donors have complained saying that the regime of Idriss Deby did not meet the 70%, particularly because of its increasing military spending.
Chad produces 150 thousand to 160 thousand barrels of oil per day, while crude oil reserves are estimated at some 1,5 billion barrels, which is very small compared to Nigeria, the first oil producer in Africa (2,12 million barrels per day of production and 36 billion barrels as reserves), where the oil is the main reason of armed conflict.
According to Sarkis, before 2003, when the price of a barrel of crude was below 28 dollars, Chad has seen a lot of difficulties to finance the prospecting of oil and attract international oil companies, especially because the country does not have shores which requires the construction of pipelines to high costs.
Serkis adds that the situation has changed greatly since the soaring oil prices. Since then, the country became the centre of attention of international oil companies, while oil revenues have become very important for the economy of Chad, which exports almost all its production.
And sarkis to explain that in 2004, foreign investment in the oil sector in Chad have helped the economy to achieve a record growth rate of 30%. "But the rate dropped to 8% in 2005", he said.
Experts estimate that chadian oil wealth has not yet been explored and it is possible to discover huge deposits in the coming years ... This raises ambitions of foreign countries, including China and the USA, when the race to secure sources of energy is in full swing.
Based on this idea, the American group "Exxon-Mobil" leads the consortium responsible for prospecting oil in Chad. This constortium includes American "Chevron" and the Malay "Petronas". But what is remarkable is absence of giant french oil company "Total" in Chad, despite the fact that France was the colonial state of Chad.
In this context, Sarkis believes that American oil companies have managed to consolidate their presence in Chad, which has raised the rancour of European and Chinese companies. "In this context, the rebellion underway is perhaps encouraged by oil companies operating in Sudan, including the Chinese ones", he said.
To Sarkis, China, which get 30% of its petroleum needs from Sudan, sees that in the long term, the best strategy will be the transfer of Chadian oil, through pipelines, tp "Port Sudan".
It seems that several parties have an interest in the Chadian oil, then is it possible that one of these parties work to feed the conflict in that country to serve its own interests and objectives?!!