HC Deb 13 December 1966 vol 738 cc234-5
29. Mr. James Johnson

asked the Minister of Power if he will state the estimated value of output of North Sea gas in 1970 expressed in units of tons of coal, and as a percentage of our fuel needs in that year.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power (Dr. Jeremy Bray)

No precise estimates are possible, but I expect that output of North Sea gas in 1970 will average at least 1,000 million cubic feet a day. This is equivalent in heat value to about 13 million tons of coal a year, and would represent under 5 per cent. of our total estimated energy requirements in 1970.

Mr. Johnson

Is my hon. Friend aware that the public look upon these massive gas supplies for the future as a national asset, just as they looked upon coal in the past? Will he take steps to prevent international oil companies from holding up supplies by demanding as much as 4d. a therm from the Gas Council?

Dr. Bray

There is no question of anyone holding up supplies. The price is a matter for negotiation between the Gas Council and the North Sea operators.

Mr. Barber

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that the delay in settling the price is now beginning to hold back this development, and is not this a serious matter?

Dr. Bray

No, Sir. There are no grounds whatever for that statement.

Mr. Brian Parkyn

Will my hon. Friend assure the House that if these volumes of gas are produced by 1970 there will be no undue protection of the coal industry?

Dr. Bray

The whole question of the use of North Sea gas and the Government's policy in relation to other fuel industries is being examined by my right hon. Friend in the Fuel Policy Review, the conclusions of which should be available in the early part of next year.

Mr. Bob Brown

Will my hon. Friend consider taking powers for the establishment of factories in the development areas to allow the gas boards to produce conversion kits, many of which will be required?

Dr. Bray

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that suggestion. I assure him that we will look into what can be done in that respect.

Captain W. Elliot

Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that an enormous amount of capital is necessary to develop these resources in the North Sea? Will he give an undertaking that the Government will neither do nor say anything which might upset the confidence of the great companies which are putting such large amounts of money into this development?

Dr. Bray

The Government have done nothing and have said nothing to upset anyone's confidence in this respect.

Title University or College of Technology Period of Contract Value
Fundamental study into Gaseous Exchange Processes relating to Safety of Nuclear Reactors. University of Sheffield 1st July, 1965–31st December, 1966 1,000
Mechanism of Heat Transfer bearing on Safety for Material Testing reactor type nuclear fuel elements. University of Manchester 1st September, 1966– 29th February, 1968 1,000
Research on the stress distribution in haulage components under static and impact loading conditions. University of Sheffield 1st September, 1964– 31st August, 1967 6,985
Research on deformation of sedimentary rocks under strata pressures. University of Sheffield 1st April, 1965–31st March, 1968 4,800
Research on the initiation and propagation of fracture in non-metallic solids. University of Cambridge 1st January, 1965–31st December, 1967 4,500
Study of simulation of risk for operational research purposes. Royal College of Advanced Technology, Salford. 1st January, 1966–31st March, 1968 250
Study of the entrainment of jets for purposes of research on flameproof en closures Imperial College of Science and Technology 1st July, 1966–30th June, 1971 16,750
Research on precipitation and strengthening in mild steel by small additions of carbide forming elements. University of Sheffield 1st October, 1965–30th September, 1968 2,655
Study of methane oxidation over heterogeneous catalysts for the purposes of developing improved methane monitoring systems. Imperial College of Science and Technology. 1st October, 1966–30th September, 1969 6,215
Study of probabilistic models for the analysis of mining accidents and health statistics. University of Sheffield 1st October, 1966–30th September, 1969 9,000