HC Deb 01 July 1980 vol 987 cc1467-83 11.30 pm
The Minister of State, Department of Energy (Mr. Hamish Gray)

I beg to move, That this House authorises the Secretary of State to pay or undertake to pay by way of financial assistance under section 8 of the Industry Act 1972, as amended by section 22 of and Part 1 of Schedule 4 to the Industry Act 1975 and section 1 of the Industry (Amend-

(1) (2: (3) (4)
Project Persons carrying on project Maximum amount of financial assistance exceeding £5 million previously authorised Maximum amount of financial assistance exceeding £5 million now authorised
Establishment offshore of production platforms and other installations with their equipment for the development of the Brent oilfield Shell UK Limited £9 million £20 million
Esso Exploration and Production UK
Establishment offshore of production platforms and other installations with their equipment for the development of Cormorant oilfield. Shell UK Limited £9 million
Esso Exploration and Production UK
Conoco North Sea Inc.
Gulf Oil Corporation
BNOC (Exploration) Limited
BNOC (Development) Limited

The offshore supplies interest relief grants scheme was introduced in October 1973 by a Conservative Government under section 8 of the Industry Act 1972. As the House knows, affirmative resolutions arise under that section of the 1972 Act when the amount of financial assistance to be provided for a single project is likely to exceed £5 million or, as the case may be, a maximum sum already authorised by an earlier resolution of the House of Commons.

I am sure that all hon. Members are aware that the OSIRG scheme has been terminated. The Government considered that the scheme no longer represented value for money overall, and in the light of the need to reduce public expenditure decided that it should come to an end. As a result of the Government's decision announced on 25 September last, grants will not be made in respect of any contracts placed after 2 July 1979.

Since the scheme began in 1973 the total number of contracts registered has passed the 1,250 mark, and in that time

ment) Act 1976, as grants towards obtaining in the United Kingdom goods and services for each of the projects specified in column 1 of the Table below carried on by persons specified in respect thereof in column 2 of the Table sums which, together with the sums already paid or undertaken to be paid by way of such financial assistance exceed the sum of £5 million or, as the case may be, the maximum sum authorised by a resolution of this House passed on 15th June 1977 in respect of the project specified in Column 3 of the Table but do not exceed the sum specified in respect of the project in Column 4 of the Table.

too, British industry has substantially increased its share of orders in the United Kingdom continental shelf market, from 25 to 30 per cent. in 1973 to 79 per cent. in 1979. Hon. Members will agree that the United Kingdom industry's performance last year was highly commendable, securing over £2 billion worth of business against tough international competition. It would, of course, be unrealistic to attribute all that improvement to the OSIRG scheme. Indeed, other factors, such as our proximity to the market and the considerable United Kingdom offshore industrial capacity that has been built up over the last six years or so, have contributed substantially.

The scheme before the House concerns only two fields, and the amounts of assistance for which I am seeking approval are best estimates of the likely outturn of grant payable under contracts for their development. They had been prepared after consultation with the operators.

Having placed contracts with United Kingdom firms and registered them for grant, the companies developing the two fields expect to be able to receive grant for the period of up to eight years provided by the scheme. The period of grant due on each field has still some two to three years to run. I hope, therefore, that the House will approve the motion, so enabling my Department to pay grant up to the revised limits recorded in the scheme.

11.35 pm
Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline)

Fortunately or unfortunately, we now move to another topic. I do not want to probe the Minister about the previous prayer, but I should be happy, if it is in order, if he could respond to my questions about the BNOC.

I notice that the decision to terminate interest relief grants was made retrospectively on 2 July. I understand that there was some criticism of these grants by the European Commission. However, I understand that the Government unilaterally decided that it was timeous to end these grants even before the time determined by the Commission.

The Minister has rightly acknowledged that in United Kingdom terms we have 75 per cent. of the expenditure in the North Sea. As he knows, because he is very conversant with these matters, having a considerable constituency as well as departmental interest, a substantial number of production platform orders is in train. I should like an assurance that, in the absence of the interest relief grants that the Government have decided to terminate, we shall continue to obtain at least 75 per cent., if not more, of the expenditure on production platforms and the like in the United Kingdom. This is an important item because, in terms of recession, we must get every possible order within the United Kingdom.

I want to detain the House a little, because we have spoken about safety matters. If we are to build production platforms and go into relatively new devices, such as the tethered buoyant platform for Hutton, it is important that we should know what the safety considerations are. I understand that Conoco has made certain representations to the Minister recently. Whether it has an annex B is a matter that he will perhaps want to disclose to the House in due time.

Outwith the interest reliefs, we know that a number of semi-submersible orders is in train. The United Kingdom has been extremely lax in getting into the semi-submersibles market in the past. I know that we built them in the early 1960s, but we have been bidded out of that market until recently.

Certain matters relating to the "Alexander L. Kielland" tragedy in the Norwegian sector have caught the public's attention. I note that in the press today there is a report: Phillips Petroleum has cancelled its four year charter contract with Norway's Stavanger Drilling for the semi-submersible floatel 'Henrik Ibsen'. The Minister has a very good association with his Norwegian counterpart. Therefore, I should like his assurance that we are undertaking the most searching investigation of offshore structures and that we are getting the most up-to-date information on the research, development and design of the future generation of production platforms and semi-submersibles.

In the past it would have been appropriate to delay deliberation of this matter until the Norwegians had made up their minds, but, in view of the Phillips decision it is not appropriate now. The Phillips decision is not without some cost. According to Lloyds List today: Phillips is believed to have paid a cancellation fee of some £2.64 million to divest itself of its interest in that particular contract. I know that the Minister is conversant with such matters, and that he will be anxious to assure the House that he is trying to clear up such an important issue.

My hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) will probably raise the question of interest relief grants, because one of his constituents is involved. Perhaps interest relief grants could be used to provide Scotland with industrial benefits.

The Minister has a constituency interest as regards the gas-gathering system. I also declare a constituency interest, because Moss Morran and the terminal at Braefoot Bay are on the borders of my constituency. We have not debated the gas-gathering system. I hope that the Minister will indicate that such an imaginative development will produce sufficient supplies of propane, butane and, particularly, ethane to sustain an ethane cracker at Moss Morran. I also hope that he will assure us that there will be an ethane cracker in the Cromarty Firth and, perhaps, in one other area. The Government should indicate their views, because the development of Scotland's petroleum industry could be placed in jeopardy.

Ministers have ways of avoiding answers and of giving written answers so that they cannot be questioned in the House. However, the gas-gathering system represents the most imaginative development in the North Sea for the past five or six years. We need not only a depletion policy, but a conservation policy. We must ensure that the United Kingdom, and Scotland, in particular, maximise their benefits from that finite resource. I am sincere, and I hope that the Minister will respond to my points.

11.42 pm
Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

I shall not take up the case of my constituent, Mr. Alan Bradshaw, because the Department of Energy has acted compassionately and sensibly. During the complex discussions that took place, Ministers were both helpful and fair.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline (Mr. Douglas) asked, when will the House debate the "Alexander L. Kielland" and the Burgoyne report? Some hon. Members believe that we should not disperse for the Summer Recess without a proper discussion of that report. If—heaven help us—something similar were to happen in the North Sea, how could we look in the face those who had demanded formal public discussion? It is important to establish the Government's view of the note of dissent by Mr. Lyons and Mr. Miller. They have raised vital questions about the Health and Safety Executive.

What is the Government's response to the many recommendations and conclusions in the Burgoyne report? What is their opinion of safety zones, site investigation, drilling and well control, electrical safety, and diving in interface areas? Those points are particularly urgent.

I wish to refer to one other matter raised in the earlier debate by my right hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen). It is not quite good enough to say that anything the Government do has the agreement of the Law Officers of the Crown. Doubtless that is correct at one level, but it seems to us that the proposed alterations in BNOC raise serious legal matters of contract. At the very least it is a matter of unscrambling the most carefully worked out, detailed and solemn obligations. Are we certain that the Government have gone into all this? Many of us feel that they are in danger of introducing an element of retrospection into the solemn obligations entered into by people in good faith.

Mr. Tim Eggar (Enfield, North)

On the legal point, surely the contracts concerned were between two entities—BNOC and other oil companies. Is the hon. Member saying that the obligation of BNOC would be altered, and the whole legal question opened up, if one of the oil companies which had entered contractual arrangements were taken over by another company or had its shareholding changed? Of course it would not.

Mr. Dalyell

That is not quite the situation in these arrangements. The Government were categorically involved, and there were certain Government undertakings. That is also the understanding of my right hon. Friend the Member for Devonport. Those of us who have followed the BNOC story, and who have a constituency interest—I am not getting at the hon. Member for Enfield, North (Mr. Eggar), but I represent the Hound Point terminal, and have constituents who work in the North Sea—understand that the Government gave their name to these arrangements in a solemn pledge. One cannot unscramble them and alter them without a certain degree of retrospective action. If I am wrong the Minister has some obligation to say so, because this may be one of the few parliamentary opportunities to probe these matters. Also, I wish to know the Government's intentions on the whole question of debating the Burgoyne report. I think that we should have some indication of them tonight.

11.48 pm
Mr. Tim Eggar (Enfield, North)

I follow directly the remarks of the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) in his reference to the future ownership of BNOC. I wish to make a couple of points on this matter. When the Government are discussing the future ownership structure—and I welcome the injection of private equity capital in BNOC—perhaps they will comment on the detailed way in which that can be done.

There are two ways that have been canvassed in the press. The first is the mechanism of oil bonds—asking investors to buy bonds, the return being linked to the profits of BNOC, the price of oil or the value of oil lifted by BNOC. If such a procedure were adopted the Government would have two choices—either the bond could be structured in terms of an equity investor, in which case the potential returns—both upside and downside—to the bond holder are significant, or it could be more or less viewed as a fixed income bond with variations in return to the investors being only marginally linked to the value of oil, or whatever the medium chosen. In either case there is little point in issuing such bonds. They will either be very close to equity, in which case equity could be issued directly, or they will be very close to fixed interest securities, in which case issue fixed interest securities. We should not come out with an unclear hybrid that will not assist anyone.

The other alternative that has been mentioned is the possibility of an offer for sale to investors of equity in BNOC. It is said that it could be structured to be of interest to private investors, and could be offered on advantageous terms. I am not convinced that the benefit of such an offer for sale would not flow either to the institutions or to a limited number of individuals who are professional players of the stock market and who have the least need to benefit from an injection of equity into BNOC. I do not find that acceptable.

I refer to my speech on the Gas Bill, when I pointed out the advantages of giving shares in the British Gas Corporation to everyone over the age 18. Exactly the same could be done with BNOC. I shall not now enumerate the advantages. In reply to a parliamentary question my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister clearly stated that she did not rule out such a possibility. I trust that the Minister will look into that proposal with considerable care. As he knows, it has been adopted with success in British Columbia and Alberta, and has a large number of advantages.

11.52 pm
Dr. David Owen (Plymouth, Devon-port)

A number of hon. Members have raised the question of BNOC. I confirm the interpretation of my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) of the arrangements on the participation agreements. I was deeply involved in those in the previous Government. No decisions were taken without the Ministers most concerned being involved collectively. At no stage was any arrangement made without the most careful consideration with the Law Officers.

Any change in the arrangements will be open to challenge. I do not expect an immediate challenge. International oil companies which wish to challenge the participation agreements will wait until the legislation is through the House, and then I believe they will challenge it. We shall not let that legislation go without those legal issues being exposed at every single stage. If necessary, I shall exercise my right, as I have done, to consult the documents and examine the legal advice proffered to the Government. The Government should not enter this area without the most careful consideration. We shall not let the matter pass lightly.

Mr. Dalyell

All the parliamentary experience and bloody-mindedness of which we are capable is at my right hon. Friend's service if that happens. Some of us will go to Dingwall, and go round the Minister of State's constituency to explain exactly what is up. Politics will be very rough.

Dr. Owen

It is a serious issue and I believe that the Under-Secretary is aware of it and has advised many of his right hon. Friends that it is a dangerous political issue. We do not wish to see another rise in the naked Scottish nationalism that we have seen in the House over the past few years, but playing around with the BNOC is a recipe for that.

The hon. Member for Enfield, North (Mr. Eggar) seems to be obsessed with turning the Floor of the House into a stock market where we spend our whole time discussing private equity shareholdings. The Conservative Party must realise that there is such a thing as acting in the national interest and that that interest is not safeguarded through a private equity shareholding. In a sense, those in government speak as custodians of the interest of the citizens of this country. It must not be thought that the State cannot run anything in the interests of the citizens.

It is well known that I am sceptical, to say the least, of constantly increasing the role of the State. I am a decentraliser. I have always challenged the belief that the only way of achieving Socialism is through State control. I am known to have a passionate dislike of the bureaucracy and inertia of the Civil Service. However, the idea that there is no role for the State and no way that it can safeguard the rights of the citizen is wrong. The equity stake of BNOC is small. At times, a case can be made against monopoly State holdings, though I do not always share that view, but the BNOC does not have a monopoly. It represents fairly flexibly the interest of the nation.

The two sides of the House part company when a change is proposed to the control mechanism of the BNOC. The two forms of bond have been mentioned. In relation to the equity bond, I agree with the hon. Member for Enfield, North that we may as well have equity shares. My objection is one of principle, because it would involve a change of control. The fixed income bonds would not mean a change in control, but one must ask what would be their purpose.

The hon. Member for Enfield, North suggests that everyone should be given free shares. Sam Brittan of the Financial Times has been advocating that proposition for some time. If such a course is to be adopted, there is much to be said for shares to be issued to everyone rather than sold. If they were sold, the distribution of the shares would be a matter of controversy. A high percentage of bonds would be purchased in Reigate and other places in the southern counties of England and there would soon be arguments about the number of bonds purchased in Scotland, compared with those bought in the more affluent South of England. North Sea oil is generally seen, north and south of the border, as a United Kingdom asset. We have got over the problems in that regard. If the Government bring them back to the Floor of the House they will be making a bed of nails for themselves.

If the bond issue does not mean a loss of control it is not as objectionable, but we should be opening a Pandora's Box for the sake of a minor change. The best course would be to stick to the existing system.

Mr. Dalyell

May we add to what my right hon. Friend has said so eloquently a warning to the Minister that if he goes ahead with the scheme the same thing may happen to him that happened to a previous Secretary of State for Scotland, who lost his seat at Moray and Nairn to Mrs. Winnie Ewing? As is well known to the House, I am not the greatest fan of the Scottish Nationalists. This is not a matter of the future constitutional arrangements of the United Kingdom. It is this kind of issue that will give the House an SNP Member for Ross and Cromarty.

Dr. Owen

I do not wish to clash with my hon. Friend with whom, over the years since we have been in the House, I have agreed on most issues. I am, and remain, a convinced devolutionist. This issue will not run away. We shall have to face it. The form in which it is carried out is open to discussion. All hon. Members recognise that it was on the issue of oil that much of the passion and much of the political force of the SNP was based. To start playing around with the matter now is extremely dangerous.

Many people inside Government—Ministers and civil servants—must be warning the Government at this moment to leave well alone. Many senior figures in the oil industry, I believe, are privately saying this to the Government. I strongly urge them to leave it alone. It requires no abdication of any commitments. There is no election pledge.

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Grantham)

The right hon. Gentleman is repeating himself.

Dr. Owen

Has the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) a point that he wishes to make? The hon. Gentleman, who interrupts from a sedentary position, does not seem to wish to intervene.

I now come to the small points. We have been extremely helpful to the Government over tonight's business. The hon. Member for Grantham, having arrived late, is not in a position to argue about the way in which the business has been handled.

I should like to refer to the offshore supplies interest relief grants. I believe that the Government were wrong in the basic decision to unwind the system and give it up. I know that the EEC and Commissioner Brunner have had their eye on this financial aid for some time. It is an open secret that the previous Government had some difficulty with Commissioner Brunner on the matter. I spent many hours dealing with this issue. I was always convinced that this was necessary, helpful and wholly legitimate aid. I took the view that we could support and sustain it within the interpretation of the Treaty of Rome. I am personally sorry that the Government did not stand firm.

I suspect that one reason why the Government gave up the aid was due not to the EEC but to the well known arguments advocated by the Treasury that it wished to wrap it up. I believe that the Secretary of State for Energy, as on many issues, has lost out to the Treasury because he decided not to fight in his belief that all public expenditure cuts are good. I would only say to the Minister that, according to the Department of Energy "Brown Paper" on "Development of the oil and gas resources of the United Kingdom": 1979 saw the start of several new major devlopments on the UK Continental Shelf. Steel jackets were ordered for North Cormorant, NW Hutton and Magnus, the last being the largest ever ordered for the North Sea. In addition, a steel gravity platform with integrated deck was ordered for the Maureen field. Apart from the North Cormorant order which was divided between UK and French firms, UK yards were successful in winning the rest of these important orders. That was a formidable achievement in 1979. It goes on: As well as these platforms, the developments give rise to a substantial level of orders for decks, piles, modules, process plant and other equipment and services. The total value of orders reported by the operators for the year was £2,679 million of which the UK share was 79 per cent. That is a formidable record of achievement. I regret deeply the Government decision to give it up, primarily, I believe, for financial reasons. If they had wished to sustain it and had been taken to court by the commissioners, they had a good chance of winning.

I should like to refer to the third report from the Public Accounts Committee on offshore supplies, interest relief grants.

My hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian has expressed his appreciation of the way in which his constituent has been dealt with. Two elements must be balanced. The Public Accounts Committee was right to draw attention to overpayments amounting to £150,000 resulting from mistakes in the calculation of grants. The Committee was right, when it found that there was some discrepancy in the evidence, to probe further. It would not be right if the House did not state that the people who serve in the offshore supplies office have done a splendid job over the years. Criticisms can he made and it is right, on an accountancy basis, for the Committee to be scrupulous about what is done, but the mistakes were made with the intention of administering the scheme in a sensible and reasonable manner.

In reporting it is possible that too great attention was paid to the discrepancies in financial control—which must be tight—and not enough to the extremely valuable role which the office played in protecting British industry, in ensuring jobs particularly in Scotland and the regions, and in ensuring that the North Sea was a success. Britain spends too much time bemoaning its inadequacies. We should not allow to go on record one account which is critical of the offshore supplies office without putting on record that that office has done a great deal to lay the foundations of success for the offshore industry.

Even in the absence of a grant I hope that the Minister will, with the flexible use of the power which we agree that he should retain in the next round, ensure that 79 per cent. is a minimum figure and that it does not fall any lower. We shall watch with attention for any fall in the orders placed outside the United Kingdom.

12.7 a.m.

Mr. Gray

With the leave of the House, I shall try to deal with some of the issues raised in debate. I thank the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) for his constructive remarks about the offshore supplies office. It is my responsibility. I attach importance to its achievements. We were able to attract only 30 to 35 per cent. of supplies in 1974. In 1979 we attracted 79 per cent. and that is a wonderful achievement. I agree that there is a tendency to go for the dramatic headline rather than to probe the behind-the-scenes working of the offshores supplies office.

The hon. Member for Dunfermline (Mr. Douglas) referred to the IRG scheme and the relationship with the EEC. I said earlier that the Government feel that the scheme has served its purpose. It has played a major part. Latterly it has not played such an important part in achieving orders because British industry has developed a great capacity and has proved to be sufficiently adaptable to take care of most areas of North Sea requirement. I regret that in some areas we are still not able to compete. They are being investigated. I hope that when the British Steel Corporation emerges with a new lease of life it will play a more prominent part.

At about the same time as we decided that the IRG scheme was not fulfilling its best requirement for us the EEC Commission, which had accepted the IRG scheme at its inception, came to the conclusion that it was no longer compatible with the Treaty of Rome and issued a directive on 2 May 1979 that the scheme should be withdrawn by 2 July 1979. That directive conflicted with the undertaking given to the United Kingdom Offshore Operators' Association by the previous Administration that nine months' notice would be given of any substantial changes to the scheme. So, as the right hon. Gentleman rightly pointed out, the EEC had its eye on this for some considerable time prior to the last election.

The Commission, however, considered that this period of notice was too long and, because no compromise with the Commission on timing was possible, it became clear that action against the United Kingdom in the European Court could well result. In the light of legal uncertainty created by the Commission directive of 2 May 1979, which we were advised would almost certainly have been upheld by the European Court, and because, in any case, we had already concluded that the scheme no longer gave overall value for money, we decided to terminate it forthwith.

As a result of that decision announced on 25 September last year grants will not be available in respect of contracts placed after 2 July 1979. The hon. Member for Dunfermline may disagree with that decision but we took it after considering the matter as fully as we could and considering the implications of not discontinuing at that time. Rightly or wrongly, we concluded that the scheme must go. That is the explanation. I am convinced that we took the right decision and we have no evidence that would indicate that there will be any falling off in the performance of British firms in achieving orders in the North Sea.

The gas-gathering system was also mentioned and, of course, I accept that that is one of the most significant engineering projects of the latter years of this century. I cannot now answer the detailed questions put to me but I can say that we have set up an organising committee which is currently looking into all the implications and the necessary arrangements for the creation of a pipeline company.

The British Gas Corporation, as I indicated at Question Time recently, will have a substantial equity in that company. At the moment it is chaired by Sir Denis Rooke and we await the committee's recommendations. They will take some time, though the committee is aware of the urgency of the matter and is keeping in close contact with us.

Mr. Douglas

I know that the subject is difficult but the gravamen of my remarks—though I do not wish to pursue the issue—relates to the supply of ethane. The gas-gathering system as proposed, has a number of options and it is important to me and to my constituents that we get clear the Minister's view of the total supply position. I am speaking not only of propane and butane but also of ethane because if there is a shortage in terms of peaks and troughs, we need to know about it in Fife.

Mr. Gray

That is a fair point and I should have remembered to comment on it. The best information that we have at the moment is that it seems likely that there will be sufficient NGLs to satisfy the requirements of more than one cracker. The hon. Gentleman also mentioned the "Alexander L. Kielland" inquiry. As he knows, that is a matter for the Norwegians. They are keeping in close contact with us and when they produce their report we shall examine it closely. We shall take advantage of any lessons to be learnt from it. I want to link that with the point raised by the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) about the Burgoyne committee report. I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his remarks about the Department and about the treatment that his constituent ultimately received.

The report contained more than 60 recommendations. I anticipate that the Government will accept the vast majority of them with little difficulty. We are currently taking views from various outside bodies on the remainder. We are having interdepartmental discussions about the implications of certian recommendations, and in particular we are investigating and considering the minority report, because that is most important. I know of no suggested date for a debate on the report. That matter is not within my remit. The hon. Gentleman has the power to raise it by other means.

We are extremely anxious to come to conclusions on the report and we shall do everything we can to hasten matters. We are as anxious as is the hon. Gentleman to ensure that the highest safety requirements are maintained in the North Sea. Obviously, the report has an important part to play in achieving and maintaining that.

Mr. Dalyell

I accept that I can raise this matter with the Leader of the House, but is it not fair for me to ask whether we have to wait for the report of the Norwegian inquiry before we can have the debate? That may not become available until after August and it will be unsatisfactory for us not to have had a proper discussion of this matter before the House goes into recess.

Mr. Gray

That is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. If we are to proceed along the lines of the Burgoyne committee report it will be useful for us to have the benefit of the Norwegian report at the same time.

The right hon. Member for Devonport, the hon. Member for Dunfermline and my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, North (Mr. Eggar) all asked about the British National Oil Corporation. Labour Members have certainly been loud and clear in giving their views on what should or should not be done with BNOC. At this stage the only assurance that I can give them is that the Government are being meticulous in investigating all the possibilities. The hon. Member for West Lothian said that it is not good enough just to say that the Law Officers have been consulted. I can assure him that they are being consulted, but that all the aspects of changes to the BNOC are being equally carefully studied.

The question of participation agreements was raised. The agreements are between the BNOC, the licensees concerned and the Secretary of State. The Government have recently said that they have no intention of varying these agreements. More than that I cannot say at this stage.

This has been a useful opportunity to discuss these matters. We are grateful to the right hon. Member for Devonport for providing the opportunity of a debate on the prayer.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House authorises the Secretary of State to pay or undertake to pay by way of financial assistance under section 8 of the Industry Act 1972, as amended by section 22 of and Part 1 of Schedule 4 to the Industry Act 1975 and section 1 of the Industry (Amendment) Act 1976, as grants towards obtaining in the United Kingdom goods and services for each of the projects specified in column 1 of the Table below carried on by persons specified in respect thereof in column 2 of the Table sums which, together with the sums already paid or undertaken to be paid by way of such financial assistance exceed the sum of £5 million or, as the case may be, the maximum sum authorised by a resolution of this House passed on 15th June 1977 in respect of the project specified in Column 3 of the Table but do not exceed the sum specified in respect of the project in Column 4 of the Table.

(1) (2) (3) (4)
Project Persons carrying on project Maximum amount of financial assistance exceeding £5 million previously authorised Maximum amount of financial assistance exceeding £5 million now authorised
Establishment offshore of production platforms and other installations with their equipment for the development of the Brent oilfield. Shell UK Limited £9 million £20 million
Esso Exploration and Production UK
Establishment offshore of production platforms and other installations with their equipment for the development of Cormorant oilfield. Shell UK Limited £9 million
Esso Exploration and Production UK
Conoco North Sea Inc.
Gulf Oil Corporation
BNOC (Exploration) Limited
BNOC (Development) Limited