AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France (Reuters) - The cost for Total (TOTF.PA) of a one-off tax on oil inventories included in France’s amended 2012 budget bill will be between 140 million euros ($172.3 million) and 160 million, the chief executive of the French oil major said on Saturday.
“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 and 160 million euros,” CEO Christophe de Margerie said on the sidelines of a news conference in the southern French city of Aix-en-Provence.
France confirmed this week it would impose the tax on the oil sector to raise some 550 million euros, 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,” 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 United States, has also dried up.
De Margerie also said he was confident on the outcome of Total’s talks with Gazprom (GAZP.MM), Russia’s gas export monopoly, to remain part of a consortium charged with 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,” Total’s CEO said.
“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 percent stake in the project.
Gazprom said this year it was looking to bring in new partners
Sources have said Anglo-Dutch group Shell (RDSa.L) 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 STL.OL.
Editing by David Holmes