§ Captain RAMSAY
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how much fuel oil suitable for consumption in His Majesty's ships is now produced from coal in this country and what expenditure would be required to lay down sufficient additional plant to meet the present requirements of the Navy; and will he confer with his colleagues with a view to taking some action in the matter?286W
While there are possibilities of expansion in this industry the amount of fuel oil suitable for consumption in His Majesty's ships which is now being produced as such on a commercial scale in this country from coal is estimated at approximately 7,000 tons per annum only. This oil is obtained as a by-product of the low-temperature carbonisation of coal. In addition a considerable amount of creosote is produced annually in the United Kingdom, but this oil is not so suitable for use in His Majesty's ships as petroleum fuel.
With the exception of the fuel oil which could be produced by the hydrogenation plant at Billingham, now for economic reasons entirely devoted to the manufacture of petrol, all fuel oils produced in this country from coal are manufactured as by-products of processes for making gas, smokeless fuel, etc., and the problem is therefore a much wider one than the construction of plant for the primary purpose of the production of liquid fuel. No useful purpose would therefore be served by attempting to give an estimate of the expenditure necessary to provide plant sufficient to meet the present fuel requirements of the Navy but the cost would clearly be enormous. This question is constantly under consideration by the Departments concerned.