HC Deb 29 April 1969 vol 782 cc1143-4
30. Mr. Cant

asked the Minister of Power to what extent the present large- scale investment in transmission systems and appliance conversion for North Sea gas is based on the level of gas reserves.

Mr. Freeson

This investment is based on the discovery of large supplies of natural gas in the North Sea and the decision to convert the whole system to its use. The new transmission system and appliances could be used for other forms of gas, if necessary.

Mr. Cant

Will the Minister say what other sources could produce gas which would be usable in converted appliances?

Mr. Freeson

The Gas Council has developed processes which can produce from oil high calorific gas which is interchangeable with natural gas. There is also a possibility of continuing the importation of natural gas, as has been done in past years, should the need arise for providing an alternative to North Sea gas, but this should not be necessary for many years. This can be done without reconversion.

Mr. Eddie Griffiths

Does my hon. Friend see a future for coke oven gas as a means of domestic heating and cooking in competition with North Sea gas?

Mr. Freeson

As my hon. Friend will know, even before the advent of natural gas, coke oven gas was on the way out and was being replaced by oil feedstocks in the gas industry.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

What is the latest estimate of the life of North Sea gas?

Mr. Freeson

That which has been published on many occasions. I remind the hon. Gentleman that the White Paper on Fuel Policy gave it as 25 years' life at three times the present rate of consumption. On the basis of the present rate of annual consumption, this will be equivalent to about 60 years' supply.

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