Who were the main winners and losers in North Sea taxation in 2015?

Chinese-owned Nexen has been unveiled the biggest tax spender in the UK North Sea during the first year of the oil and gas industry slump.

And UK energy giant BP got the biggest tax break, according to figures published by the UK Government yesterday.

The “extractive industries transparency initiative” (Eiti) report, highlights progress in getting UK-based oil, gas and mining companies to disclose their payments and receipts to and from government agencies.

It shows Nexen, owned by China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), paid a whopping £792.4million to the government in 2015.

The figure includes about £5.4million in licence fees, a £271,000 Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) levy, £245,000 of petroleum revenue tax (PRT) and £786,531 for ring fence corporation tax and supplementary charge (RFCT&SC).

At the other end of the scale, BP was in receipt of £221,163 due to PRT and RFCT&SC reimbursements more than offsetting £3.57million of licence fees and a £1.34million bill from the Crown Estate.

Nexen is the operator of the North Sea’s giant Buzzard field. CNOOC’s £9.6billion acquisition of the Canada-based firm in 2013 was China’s biggest foreign corporate takeover.

London-headquartered BP employs 79,800 people globally and is one of the biggest players in the North Sea, where current projects include the multibillion-pound Quad204 and Clair Ridge projects west of Shetland.

A Nexen spokeswoman said: “Our 2015 tax payment is a reflection of Nexen being one of the largest oil and gas producers in the North Sea for the past number of years.”

BP said it was “nearing the end of a historic £10billion programme of investment in the North Sea which, alongside the well-documented decline in industry revenues and profits related to the oil price fall, was the key driver of the 2015 tax-repayment”.

It added: “The investments we are making now will deliver UK hydrocarbon production and revenues for decades to come.

“We expect to return to a tax paying position in the UK North Sea within a few years, depending on oil and gas prices. To date, BP has paid more than £40billion in tax on its UKCS (UK continental shelf) operations.”

Other big tax payers in the North Sea in 2015 include Canadian-owned firms Suncor Energy UK and Apache North Sea , which shelled out £310.6million and £101.8million respectively/

BG Group had a tax bill of £265.7million in its last full year before a £35billion-plus takeover by Royal Dutch Shell.

US energy giant ExxonMobil and Canadian-owned CNR International joined BP among the biggest beneficiaries of receipts from the Exchequer, with aggregate returns of £215.8million and £192.5million respectively.

UK Government agencies took in, on balance, a total of £849million from extractive industries amid the turmoil of the oil price slump that year.

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