§ 19. Mr. Douglas
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he 19 will make a statement in his current assessment of the number of United Kingdom designs of production platforms which may be suitable for use in North Sea conditions.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Anthony Grant)
There are probably about a dozen United Kingdom designs of production platform support structures of various types available or under development.
§ Mr. Douglas
Does the Minister concede that no United Kingdom-designed production platforms are at present under construction? Will he particularly consult Redpath Dorman Long, a subsidiary of the British Steel Corporation, to consider the possibility of its moving its headquarters for North Sea operations from Bedford to Scotland?
§ Mr. Grant
The move seems to be a matter of some controversy. What I can tell the hon. Gentleman is that there is an increasing interest in United Kingdom designs for platforms and that the Offshore Supplies Office will seek to ensure that all oil companies and their contractors give full and fair consideration to the claims of United Kingdom designs.
§ 21. Mr. Edwin Wainwright
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will encourage foreign-based North Sea oil and gas operators to grant British firms a greater share of the needs for equipment on the drilling rigs, and a greater share of offshore supply contracts.
§ Mr. Anthony Grant
Our policy is to secure for British firms a full and fair opportunity to compete for orders. This is one of the major objectives of the Offshore Supplies Office which has been established.
§ Mr. Wainwright
Does the Minister realise that many British companies feel that foreign companies have had too great a share in the supply of equipment for drilling operations in the North Sea and in Scottish waters? Does he realise that this creates the impression that the necessary equipment will always be supplied by firms already established there? Does he appreciate that offshore drilling activity is bound to increase throughout the world and that the market is tremendous? Cannot we have a good home base which will ensure that we get into the export market?
§ Mr. Eadie
Since 90 percent. of gas consumed in this country comes from the North Sea, and since in 1975 we can expect a major flow of oil, can the hon. Gentleman tell the House what financial assistance has been given under the Industry Act to effect expansion and growth in the supply and contracting industries?
§ Mr. Grant
Without notice I could not give the details. I shall be glad to do so if the hon. Gentleman puts down a Question. He must not under-estimate the flexible powers available under the Industry Act which can be used to assist here.
Mr. Edward Taylor
Is my hon. Friend aware that, while a number of private firms have failed to respond to the opportunities, many of us are gravely concerned at the way in which the British 21 Steel Corporation appears to have failed miserably to respond to the opportunities offered by North Sea oil? Is he prepared to discuss this with the corporation to see whether further progress can be made?