Norway's government may reconsider oil tax hike - paper

OSLO Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:42am EST

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OSLO Jan 27 (Reuters) - Norway's government will review a recent oil tax hike and consider changing it if necessary, Oil Minister Tord Lien told business daily Dagens Naeringsliv on Monday.

The government has started a discussion with the oil industry, various agencies involved in the sector and the finance ministry to discuss the hike, which has led to the suspension or delay of several major projects.

"It is normal for any industry to be unhappy with a new tax and that's why we go thoroughly into the arguments," said Lien, whose centre-right coalition government took office last October, just months after the outgoing Labour-led government introduced the tax. "It should have been done before the hike."

"We have now started the job the former government should have done and we won't conclude until we hear what they have to say," he said.

State-controlled Statoil suspended its $15.5 billion Johan Castberg project in the Arctic Barents Sea last year, arguing the tax hike pushed costs too high, while several smaller projects have also been shelved.

Last year the government estimated the tax hike would raise 3 billion Norwegian crowns ($488 million) a year through 2050 by lowering how much companies can write down from their capital investments.

($1 = 6.1476 Norwegian krones) (Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Mark Potter)

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