HC Deb 03 December 1973 vol 865 c906
22. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress is being made in increasing Great Britain's share of orders for oil rigs and tenders.

Mr. Anthony Grant

A specialist builder of mobile rigs was established at Clydebank last year and in the field of supply vessels there is encouraging evidence that the United Kingdom shipbuilding industry is now taking greater advantage of the North Sea market.

Mr. Wingfield Digby

Is not that answer still disappointing? In view of the increasing importance of North Sea oil to us, will not my hon. Friend take the initiative again with engineering and shipbuilding firms in this matter?

Mr. Grant

Certainly we want to do better but, far from being disappointing, the figures are very encouraging. For example, by comparison with the end of 1972, when we had eight supply vessels on order or under construction, the figure to date is 19.

Mr. Douglas

May we have some indication of any company in the United Kingdom, with the exception of Marathon, capable of building semi-submersible drilling rigs? What is the Department's present facility for evaluating designs for production platforms and drilling rigs?

Mr. Grant

As I indicated earlier, the offshore supplies office is setting up a study of designs. Regarding alternative companies for construction, the opportunities exist and the full range of our regional assistance for industry is available.