Move for changes in oil tax

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The Independent Online
AMENDMENTS to soften the impact of the Government's controversial plan to alter tax relief on North Sea oil exploration have been tabled by John Watts, the influential Conservative backbench MP who chairs the Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee.

Smaller oil companies, which will suffer heavily from the Government's proposals to change petroleum revenue tax (PRT) relief announced in the Budget, said Mr Watts had thrown the industry a lifeline. However, British Petroleum, which stands to save up to pounds 200m from the PRT changes, opposes the amendments.

Relief against PRT owed on fields in production was introduced to encourage more exploration and appraisal in the North Sea. But critics say too much drilling is now done simply to claim back the tax.