France Wants Global Oil Tax
February 22, 2008
The Associated Press reported that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has asked the head of the International Monetary Fund to consider a tax on oil companies'' profits to help countries without energy reserves, the finance minister said recently.
Christine Lagarde told LCI television that Sarkozy had asked the new IMF chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a Frenchman, to consider a tax that would affect oil companies worldwide.
The decision comes in the wake of announcements of record earnings by many oil majors, boosted by historic crude prices.
Environmentalists and others in France have long floated the idea of taxing French oil giant Total, whose record-breaking profits they regard as reprehensible. The company, France''s biggest by market value, reported Wednesday that net profit was up by 62 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007 to 3.6 billion euros ($5.23 billion).
Lagarde said the French government was pushing for a global tax so that not only Total -- the world''s fourth-largest oil and gas company -- would be penalized.
It must be "on a worldwide level," she said.
Earlier this month, Exxon Mobil Corp. posted the largest annual profit by a U.S. company -- $40.6 billion.
Europe''s largest oil company, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, posted a 60 percent gain in fourth-quarter profit to $8.47 billion.