§ 14. Mr. Hal Miller
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is his forecast of North Sea gas supplies.
§ Mr. John Moore
I expect future supplies of gas to be larger than they otherwise would be, given the market freedom introduced as a result of the Oil and Gas (Enterprise) Bill. At the moment, however, the United Kingdom is a major gas importer. Last year, imports totalled 25 per cent. of our supplies.
§ Mr. Miller
Is my hon. Friend aware that, in developing our North Sea gas reserves, attention should continue to be paid to preserving our industrial capability for producing items such as pipe flanges or fittings? Therefore, will he repeat the assurance that the Offshore Supplies Office will continue to look carefully at this matter and that, in its judgment, it will not be led astray by the cartel for British Steel prices which has resulted in some British manufacturers having to pay more for their raw material than their competitors?
§ Mr. Moore
I know that my hon. Friend assiduously pursues British companies' interests in this matter with both my Department and the Department of Industry. Those who know the excellent activities of the Offshore Supplies Office will know that full and fair opportunity to compete will be given to British companies. However, I take the hon. Gentleman's point and will come back to him on that.
§ Mr. Douglas
Does the Under-Secretary admit that part of the estimate must be based on our being successful in bidding for Norwegian gas and prohibiting the export of United Kingdom gas?
§ Mr. Moore
The first part of the hon. Gentleman's question is correct. However, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy made it clear in his February statement that we must wait and see what major increase there will be in potential reserves prior to a long-term decision on the export of gas. For the moment, it has been made clear that no further export is expected.