25 Aug 2009 14:02

Uzbekistan could tighten tax rules for foreign gas partners

TASHKENT. Aug 25 (Interfax) - Uzbekistan is planning to tighten tax rules for the foreign partners of gas production sharing agreements (PSAs).

The Uzbek parliament's press office told Interfax that the Senate would debate amendments to the Tax Code, which would oblige foreign partners in new PSAs to pay excise of 25% of customs duty on gas, on August 28. The lower house of parliament passed the amendments in June.

Only local firms currently have to pay the 25% excise tax.

The State Tax Committee told Interfax that the new rules would grant foreign partners in existing PSAs a ten-year grace period on the excise tax payments, from the date the PSA was signed.

The Senate will also debate a new procedure that unifies the levy of royalties on natural gas, oil and gas condensate produce under PSAs.

Three PSAs are in progress in Uzbekistan. Russia's Lukoil has been developing the Kandym group of gas fields in the Bukhara region and exploring in the Ustyurt region under agreements worth more than $2 billion since 2004. The company in 2008 started to develop fields in the Ustyurt and Southern Hissar regions under PSAs worth approximately $700 million.

A consortium of Uzbekistan's Uzbekneftegaz, Lukoil Overseas, Petronas, KNOC and CNPC is developing fields in the Uzbek sector of the Aral Sea under PSAs with an initial value of $100 million.

Uzbekistan owns at least 50% of the three PSAs at the initial stage.

Malaysia's Petronas plans this year to launch two PSA projects worth a total of $1.1 billion in southern Uzbekistan.