Tax Authority Hits Chevron with US$43mn Claim

Venezuela's tax authority Seniat has presented US oil major Chevron (NYSE:CVX) with a claim for 92.7bn bolivares (US$43.1mn) in unpaid taxes, Seniat reported on Monday morning.

A Chevron spokesperson told BNamericas that while it is confident it has met all tax requirements, it would cooperate with Seniat in the clarification of the matter.

"Chevon is confident it has accurately calculated and paid our taxes every year according to Venezuela's laws of. We fully cooperated with Seniat... and will work with them to resolve any differences," the official said, reading from a statement prepared by Chevron's Latin America E&P president, Ali Moshiri.

The amount was allegedly accumulated over the years 2001-2004. Chevron has 15 working days to contest the claim. If the company chooses to ignore it, the final amount to be paid could grow by over 250% of the original amount. The claim was served in Zulia state capital Maracaibo, where Chevron has an office.

At the heart of the conflict between private oil companies like Chevron and Seniat lies the latter's decision last year to apply a 50% tax rate retroactively to companies operating oil fields for state oil firm PDVSA, up from the 34% the companies had been paying for more than a decade.

Chevron is producing some 332,000 barrels a day (b/d) of crude of varying quality in its three Venezuelan E&P projects. Ameriven, an extra-heavy crude upgrading partnership with PDVSA and fellow US major ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), provides the lion's share of almost 200,000b/d.

In 2005, Chevron received an E&P license for an offshore natural gas block in western Venezuela as part of the Rafael Urdaneta project. The company is also exploring for gas in the Plataforma Deltana in eastern Venezuela.

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