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ExxonMobil seeks to block EU tax on windfall energy profits

NEW YORK (AFP) – United States energy giant ExxonMobil filed suit on Wednesday against the European Union (EU) seeking to block its temporary tax on oil firms’ windfall profits, said a company spokesperson.

With energy prices soaring following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen announced in September the plan for major oil, gas and coal companies to pay a “crisis contribution” on their elevated 2022 profits.

Details later outlined a 33 per cent tax on profits for 2022, which are more than 20 per cent higher than the average for 2019-21.

The Commission was careful not to use the word “tax”, when it adopted the measure at the end of September, as any new tax provision at the European level would have required the unanimous agreement of all 27 EU member countries.

Nonetheless, ExxonMobil’s German and Dutch subsidiaries on Wednesday filed a challenge to the new measure at the EU’s Luxembourg-based General Court. “We recognise that the energy crisis in Europe is weighing heavily on families and businesses, and we’ve been working to increase energy supplies to Europe,” ExxonMobil spokesperson Casey Norton said in a statement.

Signage at an Exxon gas station in the United States. PHOTO: AFP

“Our challenge is targetted only at the counter-productive windfall profits tax, and not any other elements of the package to reduce energy prices,” he added.

ExxonMobil reported earnings of USD37.6 billion over the second and third quarters of 2022.

During an investor meeting in early December, ExxonMobil’s chief financial officer estimated that the EU tax would cost the group “over USD2 billion”.

She also said that the final amount would depend on how member states incorporate the measure into their 2023 budgets.

US President Joe Biden had also threatened a windfall tax on energy companies over what he called “war profiteering”, but an American version of the EU tax has not materialised.