HC Deb 29 April 1969 vol 782 cc1142-3
11. Mr. Emery

asked the Minister of Power what steps he is taking to ensure either a stand-by capacity or a continuity of supply of North Sea gas in view of the number of accidents that have taken place in the North Sea during the last 12 months.

31. Mr. Cant

asked the Minister of Power what steps he is taking in view of the recent cut in North Sea gas supplies caused by the accident to the Shell-Esso production platform, to ensure that there will be no disruption of supplies to consumers as a result of further such accidents.

Mr. Freeson

Consumers were not affected by the Shell-Esso accident. The loss of gas was made good by increasing supplies from B.P. and the Canvey storage, but mostly by switching town gas plant from natural gas to oil feedstock. Security of the North Sea supply will be ensured as facilities increase: like the newly-commissioned Leman Bank pipeline and plans for more trunk line storage.

Mr. Emery

As the hon. Gentleman will realise, there have been a number of other accidents in the North Sea. If such actions should happen again, the North Sea supply would be in very great danger. Does the Minister actually mean that he is not making any standby proposals for meeting a shortage of North Sea gas, perhaps by 1973 or 1975, if there were further accidents?

Mr. Freeson

I thought I had indicated in my main Answer that security is to be ensured as the storage facilities increase and fresh lines are brought in to bring the supplies ashore. One must make a sharp distinction between the present position and that which will obtain in the 1970s. Something like 15 per cent. goes direct to consumers at the moment, and the rest goes into the town gas plant. I do not think there is any need for fear in this respect.

Mr. Ashton

Is my hon. Friend yet in a position to announce his decision as to setting up a national hydrocarbons corporation to control North Sea gas?

Mr. Freeson

No, that is a different question.

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