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Exxon in negotiations with Chad over record $74 billion fine: Bloomberg

Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) is negotiating with Chad over a record $74 billion fine the U.S. oil company was told to pay by a court in the central African nation over unpaid royalties, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

Exxon has appealed the Oct. 5 court ruling, but the appeals court hearing has been delayed because of the talks, Bloomberg reported, citing a lawyer for Exxon. (bloom.bg/2fRpf5n)

The court decision fined a consortium led by Exxon over 44 trillion CFA francs ($73.44 billion) – nearly four times BP’s Deepwater Horizon settlement and roughly seven times Chad’s annual gross domestic product.

The consortium, which includes Malaysian state oil firm Petronas PETRA.UL and Chadian oil company SNT, were found to owe the country nearly 484 billion CFA francs ($808 million) in royalties, according to the court judgment.

It did not explain why the penalty amounted to more than 90 times that amount.

The unpaid royalties stem from a dispute over fees, sources in the Chadian finance ministry have told Reuters. The finance ministry, they said, is seeking a 2 percent royalty fee from the consortium, a rate the defendants have said is higher than the agreed level.

Exxon did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while Petronas and SNT could not immediately be reached.

(Reporting by Vishaka George in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)