DETAILED Tory tax proposals for the UK offshore industry will not emerge until after the general election, shadow energy and climate-change secretary Greg Clark said yesterday.
Mr Clark said there would be no new proposals for changing the current tax regime before the ballot, which is now widely tipped for Thursday, May 6.
It was previously thought an oil and gas tax policy review being carried out by former Conservative energy minister Tim Eggar would result in commitments in the Tories’ election manifesto.
But Mr Clark confirmed the party would go to the polls with only outline “principles”. Speaking during a visit to Aberdeen, he said precise details would be published for consultation at a later stage, adding: “There needs to be a change in the way we think about taxation for the North Sea.
“In the past, it has been based on a view of a world where there was plenty of oil and gas to be harvested.
“But reserves are now reduced and in hard-to-reach places, so there needs to be more risk-taking.”
Mr Clark said the Tories’ new approach would focus on incentives to encourage oil and gas firms to exploit more difficult areas.
He added: “This sector has a big future but investors need to be confident that there is going to be a stable policy regime.”
Mr Clark said the UK offshore industry, with its “world-beating skills, global reputation and geographical advantages” was among the sectors the Tories were looking at to get the economy back on track.
His north-east tour included talks with industry leaders at the Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) offices in Aberdeen plus visits to Transocean, Nexen, Talisman and BG Group.
OGUK chief executive Malcolm Webb said: “It was good to welcome the shadow secretary and reinforce the importance of the oil and gas industry as the provider of the UK’s primary source of energy for many years to come.
“The UK offers still significant opportunity for offshore oil and gas development but companies are finding it increasingly difficult to turn new reserves into economic production. Securing all the investments needed to develop the often smaller, more technically challenging fields will not only demand action from industry to increase efficiency and reduce costs, but it also requires government to lower production taxes and lighten UK and EU regulatory burden.”