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Maximizing the discounted tax revenue in a mature oil province




Using a partial equilibrium model for the global oil market, we search for the producer tax that maximizes the government's discounted tax revenue in Norway. The oil market model explicitly accounts for reserves, development and production in 4 field categories across 15 regions. The oil companies optimize their profit and we study how different tax rates influence their investment and production profiles over time. Our results show that a net tax rate in the range of 83 to 87 percent gives the highest tax revenue over a wide range of oil prices and government's discount rates. However, to avoid premature policy recommendations based on assumptions that are more or less uncertain, we carry out various sensitivity analysis in the favor of lower taxes. These analysis show that it is generally never optimal to reduce the prevailing net tax rate of 78 percent. Only in a very pessimistic scenario regarding costs and exploration is it optimal with a minor reduction in the tax rate. Hence, even if many regard Norway as a high tax province, a robust conclusion seem to be that reducing the present tax level on oil production will not boost investment and production to such a degree that discounted tax revenue increases. We emphasize that such a conclusion holds whether the oil companies are constrained by credit or not.

Suggested Citation

  • Lars Lindholt, 2008. "Maximizing the discounted tax revenue in a mature oil province," Discussion Papers 544, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:544

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lund, Diderik, 2002. "Rent taxation when cost monitoring is imperfect," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 211-228, June.
    2. Finn Roar Aune & Solveig Glomsrød & Lars Lindholt & Knut Einar Rosendahl, 2005. "Are high oil prices profitable for OPEC in the long run?," Discussion Papers 416, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    3. Pindyck, Robert S, 1978. "The Optimal Exploration and Production of Nonrenewable Resources," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 841-861, October.
    4. Machiel Mulder & Arie ten Cate & Ali Aouragh & Joeri Gorter, 2004. "Gas exploration and production at the Dutch continental shelf: an assessment of the 'Depreciation at Will'," CPB Document 66, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
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    More about this item


    oil market; tax revenue; equilibrium model;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • Q31 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q38 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy (includes OPEC Policy)

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