HC Deb 03 November 1980 vol 991 cc943-4
10. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Energy when he anticipates the United Kingdom will be an exporter of oil.

Mr. Gray

The United Kingdom has exported some oil for a number of years, but for the last few months production has exceeded consumption so that we have become a net exporter. For some time ahead, production and consumption will be finely balanced with monthly production, except perhaps during the winter, exceeding consumption.

Mr. Janner

Can the Minister assure the House and the country that if the Straits of Hormuz are blocked we shall still have enough oil available for this country's needs?

Mr. Gray

It would be difficult for anyone to anticipate the world oil supply in the event of such an action. There is no way in which this country can divorce itself from the problems of other parts of the world. At present it appears that we shall survive any immediate threat.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

Does the Minister not realise that, in addition to worry over the export of oil, it is feared that there will be loss of opportunities caused by the export of petrochemicals? Will he give an assurance that one of the intentions of his Department will be to secure petrochemical production in Scotland and that, if necessary, he will be prepared to consider giving a rebate on royalties or reducing petroleum revenue tax, to allow cheaper feedstock to be made available to encourage petrochemical companies to establish or expand in Scotland?

Mr. Gray

Certainly it will be the intention of the Department of Energy to ensure that the highest possible amount of petrochemical development takes place in the United Kingdom. It seems likely that Scotland will have its share of benefits in that case.

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