Investors’ eyes on tax bill as Harbour Energy to report

The biggest official fuel producer in the North Sea will present its results next week, with investors likely keen to know more about its plans for the future and the impacts of the windfall tax.

Harbour Energy has been complaining about its UK tax bill since the Government introduced a special charge for energy companies as prices soared following Russia’s full-scale assault on Ukraine.

The company said in March that its profit had been “all but wiped out” by the windfall tax. But that was based on writing off last year’s profit against what the company expects to pay over the five-year period of the tax, a move that brought criticism at the time.

Harbour set aside 1.5 billion dollars (£1.2 billion), which it said was to pay off the tax in future years.

It then said that the tax had wiped out last year’s profit, despite paying only 205 million dollars (£161 million) in extra tax last year on a profit of around 2.5 billion dollars (£2 billion).

Watchers of the company will probably be keen to know how much of the expected tax bill has actually materialised in the last six months since the end of the previous financial year. That could give them an idea of whether the 1.5 billion dollars will all be spent on the windfall tax.

In June, Harbour was boosted by the Government’s announcement that while the windfall tax would continue until 2028, it could be phased out if average oil and gas prices drop below 71.40 dollars a barrel or 54p per therm for two consecutive quarters in that period.

Investors will also be keen to know more about Harbour’s plans for the future of its non-UK operations, and whether bosses will say anything more about the rumoured tie-up with an American rival.

Earlier this month, Harbour announced it was exiting its operations in Vietnam. This means that Harbour has only a small amount of production left outside the UK, analysts said at the time.

But Harbour is also investing a lot in future opportunities abroad, including a three billion dollar development in Indonesia. This has been held up due to sanctions against the Russian company that Harbour was meant to be running this project with.

There have also been reports about a potential merger with US-based Talos Energy. That would see the company’s focus shift away from the UK after the windfall tax hit

Harbour and Talos have already partnered on a project in the Gulf of Mexico before.

Harbour reports on Thursday August 24.