"As Oil Industry Fights a Tax, It Reaps Subsidies"

"When the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform set off the worst oil spill at sea in American history, it was flying the flag of the Marshall Islands. Registering there allowed the rig’s owner to significantly reduce its American taxes.

The owner, Transocean, moved its corporate headquarters from Houston to the Cayman Islands in 1999 and then to Switzerland in 2008, maneuvers that also helped it avoid taxes.

At the same time, BP was reaping sizable tax benefits from leasing the rig. According to a letter sent in June to the Senate Finance Committee, the company used a tax break for the oil industry to write off 70 percent of the rent for Deepwater Horizon — a deduction of more than $225,000 a day since the lease began.

With federal officials now considering a new tax on petroleum production to pay for the cleanup, the industry is fighting the measure, warning that it will lead to job losses and higher gasoline prices, as well as an increased dependence on foreign oil.

But an examination of the American tax code indicates that oil production is among the most heavily subsidized businesses, with tax breaks available at virtually every stage of the exploration and extraction process."

David Kocieniewski reports for the New York Times July 3, 2010.

SEE ALSO:

"Oil Companies Have a Rich History of U.S. Subsidies" (Los Angeles Times)

"Obama Calls for End of Oil Subsidies in 2011 Budget" (triplepundit)

"Oil Industry Subsidies: a Gusher of Another Kind" (Facing South)

"Oil Industry Subsidies for Dummies" (Cleantech Group)

"Oil and Gas Tax Subsidies: Current Status and Analysis" (CRS, 2007)

Oil Aid Database

"Oil Slickers: How Petroleum Benefits at the Taxpayer's Expense" (Institute for Local Self-Reliance)

"Money To Burn" (World Resources Institute)

"'Big Oil' at the Public Trough? An Examination of Petroleum Subsidies" (Cato Institute)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010