An aerial view of the Santos GLNG project on Curtis Island.
An aerial view of the Santos GLNG project on Curtis Island. Santos

GLNG spending delays $482 million tax bill for Santos

ONE of the giants of the onshore gas industry, Santos, has paid none of its $482 million income tax bill for last year, a Senate inquiry heard on Wednesday.

The inquiry into multinational tax avoidance heard from Santos, Origin and Woodside Energy in Sydney.

But Santos's massive $3.5-4billion a year investment in its Gladstone LNG project had meant the company could delay paying the tax bill.

Santos chief financial officer Andrew Seaton said the bill would be paid as the gas project booked revenues - the first of which was booked in October this year as exports began out of Gladstone.

"The tax will ultimately be paid, it's really a question of timing," he said.

Similarly, Origin Energy, a partner in the APLNG project also at Gladstone, booked some $12.5billion in revenues from Australian operations.

Origin, however, paid only $109million in income tax in Australia last year, admitting it had "no liability" to pay under the Federal Government's petroleum resource rent tax.

That tax, similar to the short-lived mining tax, based on high profits for gas firms, failed to reap any revenue due to tax deductions for capital investment.

Both companies spent much less on their income tax bills than Woodside Energy.

Woodside executives told the committee the company did not have a specific revenue figure for last year, but it was "around $7billion".

But that company paid $1.09billion in income tax in Australia, $31million under the resource rent tax and $252million in state government royalties.

The company had set up an offshore marketing hub in Singapore in 2013, but it only reaped $640,000 for fees linked to trading of Australian gas to the global market.

Woodside chief financial officer Lawrence Tremaine said there was "no attempt here for us shifting profits from Australia".

But asked whether that was "not yet", there was no response, and Woodside said it could not say publicly what tax rate it paid on its Singapore operations.