Daily Telegraph (UK): Inactive oil firms 'should be taxed': “The union claimed in a report yesterday that Shell, BP, Total and ExxonMobil, which control 50pc of the reserves under the North Sea, had presided over a production slowdown as they concentrated resources elsewhere.”: “BP hopes to raise $600m to $800m with the sale of its 10.2pc in the Ormen Lange field, which featured in the reserves scandal that engulfed Shell this year.” (ShellNews.net)
By Christopher Hope, Business Correspondent (Filed: 20/10/2004)
Amicus, which represents thousands of oil and gas workers in Britain, is calling on the government to slap an "inactivity tax" on companies that own drilling rights to parts of the North Sea but are not extracting oil.
The union claimed in a report yesterday that Shell, BP, Total and ExxonMobil, which control 50pc of the reserves under the North Sea, had presided over a production slowdown as they concentrated resources elsewhere.
Danny Carrigan, assistant general secretary, said: "The [majors] don't want to sign away drilling rights in case they lose out on profits. If money talks, then we say they should talk to the taxman."
Amicus claimed that a "dramatic decrease in exploration drilling in the United Kingdom continental shelf" over the past two years has resulted in the loss of more than 1,500 drilling jobs.
Amicus proposed four options, including increasing the 10pc "supplementary charge" imposed on profits from the North Sea in 2002, but favoured an "inactivity tax", based on unexplored acreage within a specific timescale.
Mr Carrigan wants to discuss the proposal with Chancellor Gordon Brown soon. He said: "If the big operators do not want to drill in the North Sea then they should get out of the way and let the smaller operators in. There is plenty of oil left offshore."
Mike Tholen, economics and commercial director of the UK Offshore Operators Association, said: "Amicus' report is outdated. They have failed to notice the renewed optimism and energy in the North Sea.
"Its proposals are out of touch with reality and, worse, could do lasting damage to the industry, cost investment and jobs and reduce the industry's competitiveness at a crucial stage in its life cycle."
• BP hopes to raise $600m to $800m with the sale of its 10.2pc in the Ormen Lange field, which featured in the reserves scandal that engulfed Shell this year.