Total facing oil inventories tax bill of €150m
THE COST for Total of a one-off tax on oil inventories included in France’s amended 2012 budget bill will be between €140 million and €160 million, the chief executive of the French oil major has said.
“I will give you a range because it will depend on the tax base that we don’t know yet; let’s say it’s between €140 million and €160 million,” Christophe de Margerie said on the sidelines of a news conference in the French city of Aix-en-Provence.
France confirmed this week it would impose the tax on the oil sector to raise some €550 million, helping depleted government coffers, but hurting its struggling refining industry.
“What is bothering us really is that the refining sector, which will be hit by these taxes if we target crude oil stocks, is a loss-making sector, and it’s always a nuisance when you overtax a sector which is not doing well in the first place,” Mr de Margerie told reporters.
European refiners have been struggling for years due to poor margins and weak demand for fuel products in the crisis. The traditional market for French exports of refined oil products, the US, has also dried up.
Mr de Margerie also said he was confident about the outcome of Total’s talks with Gazprom, Russia’s gas export monopoly, to remain part of a consortium developing one of the world’s biggest natural gas fields.
“Negotiations on Shtokman, as far as we’re concerned, are well advanced. I am now waiting for some feedback from Gazprom,” said Total’s chief executive. “I am calmly waiting for their decision. Our wish, obviously, is to participate in this very important project for Russia, and also, obviously, for us,” he said, adding that he was still seeking to keep a 25 per cent stake in the project.
Gazprom said this year it was looking to bring in new partners.
Sources have said that Anglo-Dutch group Shell is a possible third partner for Gazprom in the consortium to develop the giant gas field in the Barents Sea, which also includes Norway’s Statoil.