World Bulletin / News Desk
France confirmed on Wednesday it would impose a one-off tax on the oil sector to raise some 550 million euros ($693 million), helping depleted government coffers.
"This should, in principle, be a one-off tax," Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac told reporters at a news conference presenting the amended bill for France's 2012 budget.
The tax, which the new Socialist government said would tap a sector whose margins have been boosted by the sharp rise in oil prices, will hit all owners of oil stocks in mainland France, from refiners to supermarket petrol stations and traders.
The tax will amount to 4 percent of the value of average crude and fuel stocks owned in the last three months of 2011, the bill document showed.
That includes refineries of oil majors such as Total , which had a total net profit of 12.3 billion euros in 2011, and petrol stations owned by supermarket chains such as Carrefour.
However, the targeted French oil distribution industry had a net margin of about 500 million euros last year, according to statistics from the Comite Professionel du Petrole industry think-tank, equivalent to the amount sought by the government.
The head of France's oil industry body UFIP Jean-Louis Schilansky told Reuters last month the tax would be a severe blow for the ailing refining sector.
European refiners have been struggling for years due to poor margins and weak demand for fuel products, prompting Total to shut its Dunkirk, northern France, refinery at the start of 2010 and Petroplus to end refining at its Reichstett plant in eastern France in May 2011. ($1 = 0.7933 euros)
Pakistan will give India Most Favored Nation status by the end of March.
"Germany's dependence on Russian gas may effectively decrease Europe's sovereignty. I have no doubts about that," Polish PM Tusk said
EU member Bulgaria has started preliminary works on the pipeline on its territory, but has repeatedly said its operation should be in line with EU rules
Japan posted a current account deficit of 1.58 trillion yen (US$15 billion) for January.
The Asia-Pacific would be left with more than half a billion chronically hungry people even if the region meets its millennium development goal
The Visegrad 4 group including Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia is looking to diversify supplies
Nick Letchford, managing director of the group that owns the Old Shoreditch Station cafe, decided to install the machine after noticing the popularity of bitcoins among his customers working nearby in the digital industries.
Varying degrees of drought are hitting almost two thirds of the limited arable land across Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Iraq.
Turkey deems Iranian gas too expensive compared with other suppliers like Russia and Azerbaijan, an assertion rejected by Tehran.
Satoshi Nakamoto, a name known to legions of bitcoin traders, practitioners and boosters around the world, appeared to lose his anonymity on Thursday after Newsweek published a story that said he lived in Temple City, California, just east of Los Angeles.
BP's exploration and production sharing agreement with Libya covers onshore acreage in Ghadames, near the border between Libya, Algeria and Tunisia, and offshore acreage in the central Sirte basin
There are discussions at high levels within the U.S. government on how to use U.S. natural gas resources
The judicial sources said on Thursday that prosecutors suspected the companies of working together on campaigns to favour Lucentis, including promoting it to local doctors
Scotland's Energy Minister Fergus Ewing offered to meet Shell to discuss the future of the oil and gas industry if Scotland votes to end its 307-year tie with England
European Commission President said that from a purely financial standpoint the crisis in Ukraine should not have much impact on the euro zone but there was potential for far greater instability