HC Deb 28 March 1983 vol 40 cc13-4
13. Dr. J. Dickson Mabon

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what discussions he has had with Ministers whose Governments are members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries in the past six weeks.

Mr. Lawson

During the course of recent OPEC meetings in London I had a number of separate meetings with OPEC oil Ministers, at their request.

Dr. Mabon

Will the Secretary of State confirm that one of the Ministers was the Nigerian Minister? Will he accept that if there is an oil price war between Nigeria and ourselves the British National Oil Corporation will be seriously hurt? Is it not in Britain's and Nigeria's interests that we avoid such a conflict?

Mr. Lawson

I sometimes think that the right hon. Gentleman is more concerned about the unterests of Nigeria than the interests of Britain, but I am sure that that is due to the infortunate phrasing of his question. As I made clear in answer to art earlier question, Britain has no interest in an exaggerated fall in oil prices and will do what it can, within the confines of market forces, to introduce a degree of stability into the market place.

Mr. Skeet

As the Secretary of State is prepared to follow market forces, will he give a specific directive to the BNOC under the Petroleum and Submarine Pipe-lines Act to do precisely that and to follow the market price downwards so that the differentials are corrected and so that people buy North sea oil and do not go to Nigeria for oil?

Mr. Lawson

I see no cause for a directive. BNOC has some highly skilled traders who have been selling North sea output with skill during difficult times. I regret that I forget the second part of ray hon. Friend's question.

Mr. Hardy

To enhance the stability to which the Secretary of State referred, can he confirm that there will be no increase in the amount of oil exported from British oilfields in the next 12 to 18 months? Would that not be a remarkably sensibile gesture for him to make?

Mr. Lawson

The amount of oil produced in the North sea depends on the companies. My best guess is that, looking at the profiles of individual fields, North sea production this year will be about the same as last year.

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