* Greece plans to cut tax for oil/gas firms to 25 pct from
* Wants them to help exploit offshore hydrocarbon resources
* Announces tender of first oil exploration licences
LONDON, July 1 Greece is planning to cut tax
rates for oil and gas companies as it wants to attract them to
help exploit its untapped offshore hydrocarbon resources, its
energy minister said on Tuesday.
Under the plan, oil and gas explorers will pay 25 percent
tax, down from 40 percent currently, and 5 percent of the tax
will go to local communities.
"We have done this in order to incentivise our investors to
invest in the future of Greece," Ioannis Maniatis, Greece's
Energy Minister, said at a conference in London. He did not say
when the new tax rates would come into effect.
Debt-laden Greece, which spent 15.6 billion euros ($21.2
billion) to import fuel last year, or about 8.6 percent of its
gross domestic product, has launched an ambitious programme to
discover big hydrocarbon reserves. It has been inspired by large
gas finds offshore from nearby Israel and Cyprus.
Maniatis also announced the tender of Greece's first
large-scale oil and gas exploration licenses after several
fruitless attempts over the past decades to make big oil
A group of Greek government oil and gas experts was meeting
representatives from BP, Shell, Total
and ExxonMobil and other oil companies in London on
Tuesday and Wednesday, a Greek government source said.
Once the tender is officially published in the coming weeks,
oil and gas producers will be able to bid for licences covering
20 blocks located south of Crete and in the Ionian Sea.
"We will evaluate all the available data regarding the 20
offshore blocks which will be included in Greece's new
concession round," said Mathios Rigas, chief executive of
Energean Oil & Gas, currently Greece's sole oil producer.
(Reporting by Karolin Schaps; Editing by Susan Fenton)