Tax Authority Asks for US$15mn from Five Oil Companies

Venezuela's tax authority, Seniat, said local units of China's CNPC, Japan's Teikoku Oil, London-based Perenco and Norway's Statoil (NYSE:STO), plus a unit of state oil firm PDVSA owe it collectively more than 33bn bolivares (US$15mn).

The first three companies, minority partners in oil and gas E&P joint ventures with PDVSA, owe money as part of last year's income tax increase to 50% from 34%, a Seniat official told BNamericas.

The last two are partners in the Sincor joint venture project in the Orinoco oil belt and owe some 5bn bolivares due to a tax increase, the official said.

Seniat says CNPC owes 23.5bn bolivares in back taxes. Teikoku has paid the 202mn bolivares it owed.

The amount demanded of Statoil and PDVSA, partners in the Sincor project, "hails from 2002 and was calculated at 34% - we didn't even use the new 50% tax rate" that was passed last week, the official said.

HARVEST

In addition, Houston-based oil company Harvest Natural Resources' (NYSE: HNR) 80%-owned Venezuelan affiliate Harvest Vinccler received a final assessment from Seniat for 120bn bolivares in taxes for 2001-04.

"We will continue to pursue with the Seniat as best we can, resolve all tax matters from 2001-05 and will communicate the results in due course," Harvest CEO James Edmiston said in a statement.

Seniat has collected 700bn bolivares in taxes thanks to last year's tax increase.

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