Small oil operators offered tax concession

Financial secretary Ruth Kelly revealed, during Finance Bill debates in the Commons, that proposals have been sent to the companies concerning an apportionment system, which could allow the cost of capital raised for North Sea development to be set against the levy.

But she made it clear any system would have to be fair and not significantly reduce the revenue the Treasury expects from the tax increase.

Smaller firms operating only on the UK continental shelf – on whom many experts believe the future of the offshore industry depends – would derive the most benefit.

Kelly rejected Tory, Liberal Democrat and Scottish National Party attempts to minimise the levy and announced the Department of Trade and Industry would ‘very shortly’ publish proposals for consultations on abolishing royalties on older oil fields – as promised in Brown’s Budget.

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