UK government plans a North Sea rescue

The UK government is to offer a rescue package to troubled North Sea oil firms amid fears of large-scale bankruptcies and job losses in the industry.

Plans include the immediate release of several hundred million pounds held by the UK Treasury in accumulated tax credits and an offer to groups that won licences in last year's auction of new North Sea oil fields to return them if they are unable to fund their development.

Malcolm Webb, chief executive of Oil & Gas UK, the representative organisation

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