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Ear to the Ground

Oil Companies Awash in Subsidies

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Posted on Jul 4, 2010
Deepwater Horizon
AP / Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Lloyd, U.S. Coast Guard

The Deepwater Horizon burns in the Gulf of Mexico before it collapsed and sank on April 22.

As the government weighs a tax on petroleum production to help pay for the Gulf spill cleanup—and as oil companies cry foul—a quick analysis of the U.S. tax code shows the oil industry to be one of the country’s most heavily subsidized.

BP, for example, was able to write off 70 percent of the rental cost on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, a tax-deduction windfall worth $225,000 a day. —JCL

The New York Times:

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.

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By mike112769, July 4, 2010 at 8:25 pm Link to this comment

This is supposed to be news? How is this a surprise to anybody?

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By PatrickHenry, July 4, 2010 at 8:25 am Link to this comment

I guess this demonstrates that there is more than one hole to plug.

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