Friday, February 01, 2008

Brown and Darling could force Shell and BP to leave the UK

There is a lot of emotional nonsense being spoken about Shell's profits today.

People like Unite and the AA ( for goodness sake) are trying to link petrol prices at garages to oil company profits. This of course not true. Even refining in general is less profitable - note BP selling Coryton recently to Petroplus.

Gordon Brown damaged the long term future of the North Sea oil industry as chancellor when he raised taxes and made clear that there was no longer going to be stability from the government. The problem is that areas like the North Sea require long term and high investment - you don't make it if you think the likes of Gordon Brown are just going to steal it when it suites them. Shell and BP have already made substantial moves to pull back from of the North Sea.

Now there's at least £8Billion missing from government revenues and making a popular so called windfall tax will look tempting to Darling. But remember its peoples pension schemes that own Shell and BP. So he's really stealing from peoples pensions when he does this ( not that you can expect left wing organisations like the BBC to explain this as the report from a garage forecourt having interviewed angry voters - I have no idea if they've done that this time, but I think they will ).

And there is a further risk Shell and BP may move. Shell completely to the Netherlands ( it is already registered there and its technical operations based there - the Dutch have for a long time got the better deal out of Shell ), BP to the US.

Then HMG will no longer benefit from taxing the profits that these companies make over seas. Less British people will work for these companies and out skills base will decline further.

But just because a decision is pig headily stupid in the medium to long term doesn't mean that Alistair Darling won't get permission from his master Gordon Brown to do it to keep them in their government jobs for a few more years.

Update: See this quote from Sunday 3 Feb Telegraph

    "Shell is withdrawing from the North Sea operations because oil and gas reserves are in decline. On Thursday the company said it was planning a big increase in capital expenditure this year, using money from disposals to invest in more productive oil and gas fields around the world."

MiaS would argue that it is also because of uncertainty about operating in the UK created by Gordon Brown.


old and angry said...

Hmmm, i wonder why none of the pundits on TV taday didn't raise the issue of Purchase tax AND VAT.
A Tax on a tax!!!

I must disclose an interest here, i have worked for Shell for 24 years.
(and a more socially and environmentally aware company,you would be hard pressed to find)

Man in a Shed said...

I guess I should also as I worked for Shell for 4 years after graduation, and one day hope to enjoy a small pension from the two pension scheme's I'm part of. If I live that long !

But in many ways the recent changes in the company should be a warning to the UK. I was in one of the last years when most UK and Dutch graduates were recruited. The intake is now global in basis. I've seen these companies pulling back slowly from the UK and the likes of Gordon Brown pushing them further away.

The general public has no idea of the vandalism its government is carrying out in its name.

Ellee Seymour said...

And the scary thing is we have Russian oil pipes being installed throughout Europe. Would we want to be at their mercy? We can't grow enough biofuels to be self-sufficient, and that will impact on our crops, it's doom and gloom, for sure.

Man in a Shed said...

Elle, Russia is a real worry. I've visited a refinery in Germany that is now taking all its oil from Russia. Though you can substitute with different sources its not that easy as each type of oil is different and is optimised for different equipment.

Gas is worse - far worse. And given the alternative is stuff delivered from areas under the threat or influence of Islamic extremism they don't make good sources either. think this is the real reason for nuclear and even the main driver for renewable power - not climate change - though its far more diplomatic to blame climate change.

However Shell and BP don't guarantee us oil supplies - they do provide considerable benefits to the country in supporting important skills basis in Engineering, oil trading and other services. Lots of British people work abroad for these companies gaining skills they then bring back. Many other countries would dearly love to have such companies based in their countries. We should not drive away the geese that lay the golden eggs.