HC Deb 20 February 1984 vol 54 cc548-9
6. Mr. Hayward

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if the Government have any intention of altering the status of the British National Oil Corporation.

Mr. Peter Walker

I do not envisage changes in the status of the corporation. The review of BNOC's operations promised by my predecessor to the Select Committee will be completed shortly.

Mr. Hayward

Does my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State accept that the creation of Britoil has been fairly successful, and that BNOC would benefit from a further splitting off into separate entities?

Mr. Walker

At present I have no plans to do that, but I agree that Britoil has been successful.

Mr. Douglas

What would be the status of agreements with the oil companies, in terms of oil coming to BNOC, if any changes were made, and what losses does the right hon. Gentleman expect BNOC to make?

Mr. Walker

I do not at present anticipate any losses by BNOC, and I hope that during the past year it will have made a profit.

Mr. Rowlands

I remind the House of the crucial role that BNOC played in trying to stabilise oil supplies in this country during the crisis in 1979. In view of the serious situation that is developing now between Iran and Iraq in the Gulf, will the Secretary of State hold urgent discussions with BNOC and the International Energy Agency to ensure that we are better prepared than we were in 1979?

Mr. Walker

I agree that stability in prices is very important, and BNOC has an important role to play in that connection. As for consultation, I am in constant contact with BNOC.