'''96 Litespeed Catalyst, '05 Litespeed Firenze, '06 Litespeed Tuscany, '12 Surly Pacer, All are 3x8,9 or 10. It is hilly around here!
The tape is "rim tape" and it is there to protect the inner tube from the sharp edges of the spoke holes. It is essential to avoid flats. You could peel it up if you are careful to replace it so it covers the entire spoke bed.
Why not oil the nipples from the hub side? A drop of oil on each nipple at both the spoke entry point and where they enter the rim should be effective.