Should Scotland follow Nigeria to recover billions in lost oil revenues?

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Shell payments to governments in 2015: https://www.carbonbrief.org/uk-taxpayers-handed-shell-usd123m-in-2015

In Scottish source Energy Voice today:

Nigeria is seeking to recover as much as $62billion (£50.6bn) from international oil companies, using a 2018 Supreme Court ruling the state says enables it to increase its share of income from production-sharing contracts. In the latest plan, the government says energy companies failed to comply with a 1993 contract-law requirement that the state receive a greater share of revenue when the oil price exceeds $20 per barrel, according to a document prepared by the attorney-general’s office and the Justice Ministry. The document, seen by Bloomberg, was verified by the ministry. When the law came into effect 26 years ago, crude was selling for $9.50 per barrel. The oil companies currently take 80% of the profit from these deep-offshore fields, while the government receives 20%, according to the document. Oil traded at $58.29 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe Exchange.

Nigeria demands $62billion from oil majors for past profits

Despite their Scottish location, Energy Voice didn’t seem to consider whether there was any scope in Scotland or the UK seeking to recover billions. Sharp-eyed reads might have noticed in the above graph that Nigeria seemed to do quite well from one contractor in 2015, Shell, and that the UK did not. In fact:

‘The UK government paid Shell $123m in 2015, new figures reveal. Of 24 countries where Shell reported, the UK was the only net contributor to the oil and gas major.’

No doubt Shell’s accountants and their Eton-educated buddies in HMRC or the Treasury will have a ‘good’ explanation. When you look at Shell’s payments, in the years after the referendum as SNP support soared, another explanation comes to mind:

UK government revenues from oil and gas production

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UK government tax revenues from oil and gas production (£bn) between 1968 and 2015. Figures cover tax years whereas the dates shown are for the tax year end. Figures for 2016/17-2020/21 are forecasts. Sources: Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Office of Budget Responsibility. Chart by Carbon Brief.

Here’s what taxjustice.net had to say:

WESTMINSTER’S “mismanagement” of oil since the price slump two years ago has cost Scotland tens of billions of pounds and is being falsely used to attack independence, a leading think tank has claimed ahead of the publication of the nation’s annual balance sheet.

In the August 2016 report, from taxjustice.net:

‘New analysis of the UK’s North Sea oil and gas suggests that the combination of tax giveaways by the government, and aggressive avoidance by multinationals, means that the country may actually be subsidising the extraction of its natural resources. A new report published today by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) sets out a series of shocking statistics on the UK’s failure to obtain an appropriate share of its own resource wealth. Among them, these stand out:

  • In 2014, UK consumers paid 6 times more tax on petrol, excluding VAT, than the North Sea oil and gas industry paid on all taxes related to production.
  • Chevron’s effective tax rate in 2014 on earnings from North Sea production was 5.4%; statutory tax rates (of various types) on oil and gas should have totalled 61-82%.
  • In 2014, 3 (Shell, BP & Total) of the top 4 North Sea producers produced more than £4.3 billion worth of oil and gas and received over £300 million in net tax refunds.
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The ITF argue that while the oil sector has successfully lobbied for and won huge tax breaks from the UK government, the companies involved continued to pursue aggressive tax avoidance as standard practice. The Chevron report (see graphic for UK structure, click to enlarge) provides a detailed case study of tax dodging tactics which are replicated by others, particularly Nexen – on which the Times had a frontpage splash yesterday, using ITF analysis to show that the Chinese government-backed company received tax credits of £2 billion.’

The UK’s North Sea oil revenues: Giving it away?

The Herald did, alone I think, pick up on the story:

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Published by johnrobertson834

Retired Professor of Media Politics Not-for-profit independent political analysis

4 thoughts on “Should Scotland follow Nigeria to recover billions in lost oil revenues?

  1. The propaganda war on Scotland goes deep
    Westminster will do anything to keep control of Scotland and that includes trying to sink Scotland’s economy there are and will be no limits to the spite rained only Scotland by Westminster .
    Independence will free us from this evil and we will then be able to keep them out

    Like

  2. Slightly off topic but I can’t help wondering whether Boris colluded with Trump over the recent Scotch Whisky tarriff being introduced by the US. It would suit the anti-independence cause if Scotland lost out on one of it’s biggest sources of income, and it benefits Trump too.

    Like

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