HC Deb 02 April 1984 vol 57 cc641-2
16. Mr. Rost

asked the Secretary of State for Energy when he expects to make a statement on the proposed purchase by the British Gas Corporation of Norwegian gas from the Sleipner field.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The British Gas Corporation has informed me about progress with its Sleipner negotiations, but there are still a number of aspects that need to be studied carefully.

Mr. Rost

Before the Government allow British Gas to buy another £20 billion worth of high-cost Norwegian gas, will he satisfy himself that the taxpayer will get a better deal out of that than by encouraging the development of perhaps cheaper gas from our own very adequate offshore continental shelf reserves?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

There are a considerable number of issues to consider. There are the implications in regard to our own production. There is equally the fact that as the Frigg supplies begin to run down, as we go into the 1990s, there could be a considerable gap in the available supplies. It is a very serious matter. There are many different aspects to be considered and we shall look at them all very carefully before coming to a decision.

Mr. Rowlands

Do not the assessments show that we shall need the gas from Sleipner and as much gas as possible from the British sector of the North sea if we are to meet the growing demand for gas supplies in the latter part of this decade?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

All the best estimates show that there is a gap into the 1990s and the BGC and the Government have the responsibility to make sure that that gap is properly filled. Of course, there are other supplies as well.