HC Deb 28 January 1991 vol 184 cc643-4
7. Mrs. Margaret Ewing

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on North sea oil and gas developments presently under consideration by his Department.

Mr. Moynihan

Draft plans for 11 new or incremental oil and gas development projects in the North sea are currently under detailed consideration by my Department.

Mrs. Ewing

Given the extent of the developments to which the Minister referred, is his Department taking steps to ensure that contracts for the steel pipelines and production and exploration platforms required will be allocated to domestic steel mills? In particular, did the Department establish any contact with the Scottish Development Agency when it prepared its report on the future of Ravenscraig, Clydesdale and Dalzell, when the agency could have pointed out the potential contracts that would arise from the new developments?

Mr. Moynihan

In the marketplace, suppliers will win contracts only if they deliver top-quality products within specification and on time. The capability to undertake work for the pipeline to which the hon. Lady refers does not exist in the United Kingdom at present because of the quality and thickness of pipes required. On the positive side, I assure the hon. Lady that all three jackets under consideration for Everest, Lomond and the separate riser platform have been awarded to Highland Fabricators. Of course, we take note of the success, or otherwise, of United Kingdom suppliers in that sector.

Mr. Brandon-Bravo

As oil and gas sources are finite and should be conserved, can my hon. Friend the Minister comment on the Government's support and hopes for the future of converting coal into fuel oil? I refer particularly to the Point of Ayr project, which I and a number of my hon. Friends visited last Friday.

Mr. Moynihan

On the second point, I am sorry that I was not with my hon. Friend when he made his visit and I shall follow that up in writing. On the first point, my hon. Friend is right to refer to the importance of a sensitive and sensible policy when it comes to the depletion of oil and gas reservoirs. In that context, we pay special care to ensure that the licence rounds, which have been taking place on average every two years in the offshore oil and gas sector, reflect the need for a sensible depletion policy in the long term.