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DTI in new North Sea drive

THE GOVERNMENT is to encourage further development of the UK Continental Shelf, where production costs are beginning to drive oil companies overseas.

At a conference in Scotland later this month, the Department of Trade and Industry will unveil plans to reduce the bureaucratic burden on companies by streamlining the amount of information they have to provide.

Tim Eggar, the energy minister, is also expected to urge equipment and infrastructure companies to do more to exploit British technology in oil and gas fields overseas.

But a DTI source said the main thrust would be a package to cut the costs of complying with rules and regulations. It will be one of the first moves in a drive by the department under the leadership of Michael Heseltine to forge a better relationship with industry.

However, the Government will fall short of announcing a reduction in the huge taxes on North Sea operators. North Sea production companies pay a petroleum revenue tax of up to 75 per cent. Companies operating in older fields also pay a royalty of 12.5 per cent on the value of oil produced.

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