UK Government considers oil industry calls for North Sea tax breaks
22 December 2014
Britain is considering reducing the tax bill for oil explorers in the North Sea, including a proposal from the industry to halve rates, to help revive an area already in decline before the recent oil price falls, according to the Sunday Times.
Talks between the country's finance ministry and trade body Oil & Gas UK have focused on some key proposals, with one involving scrapping the 30% supplementary corporate tax levied on top of the 30% basic rate for the industry, the newspaper said.
The number of wells drilled in the North Sea last year - 13 to find new fields and 15 to measure the size of ones already discovered - was the lowest since exploration started in the mid-1960s.
The government has already announced a small cut in tax rates for the industry from 62% to 60%, and minister Danny Alexander told BBC Radio Scotland it would continue to move towards a lower tax environment in the North Sea.
He said he would "absolutely" like to cut taxes further, although he couldn't make any promises on timing. "I think that we have to keep that headline rate moving down over the next few years," the Chief Secretary to the Treasury said on December 19.
"This is something that, for me, takes a high priority because the North Sea is a massive employer, it is the largest industrial investor in the UK economy and it's enormously important to the north-east of Scotland."
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