HC Deb 25 February 1936 vol 309 cc275-7W

asked the Secretary for Mines if he can give the monthly production of petrol at the Imperial Chemical Industries works at Billingharn; and whether the works are now in full production, the total cost of the works to

petroleum and petroleum products were exported from the United States of America to Italy and Italian dependencies in the month of December, 1935?


The following table shows the quantities of crude petroleum and petroleum products exported from the United States of America to Italy and Italian Africa during the month of December, 1935:

date, the monthly consumption of coal, and the number of workpeople now employed at the plant and in the secondary industries?


In reply to a question by the hon. Member on the 30th July last, I gave a full statement of the position as it then existed at the Billingbam plant. At that time 25,000 tons (7½ million gallons) of petrol had been produced. By the courtesy of Imperial Chemical Industries, Limited, am able to give the following information with regard to the present position.

Up to the present time a total of about 80,000 tons (24 million gallons) has been obtained, of which approximately 36,000 tons were produced during the three months October-December, 1935, or practically up to the full capacity of the plant as given in the earlier statement referred to. During that quarter the total quantity of coal devoted to the manufacture of petrol was 113,500 tons. In addition, tar oils from the high and low-temperature carbonisation of coal were hydrogenated. My hon. Friend will appreciate that during the first few months in a new plant of this kind it is to be expected that the output may vary from month to month as modifications and adjustments to the plant need to be carried out as experience is gained of large-scale operations.

The number of workpeople employed at Billingham in connection with petrol manufacture is over 2,000 and it is estimated that, in addition to miners directly engaged in producing coal for the plant, something approaching the same number may be employed in secondary industries. I have no information about the cost of the works beyond what was announced by the company in October last, when the plant was officially opened. It was then stated that the new capital expenditure amounted to about £3 million.