§ 28. Mr. Stonehouse
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the estimate of the value of Great Britain's North Sea oil and gas reserves at current prices.
§ Mr. Benn
Consultations with the oil companies last year on the refining of North Sea oil suggested that the industry's plans were broadly consistent with our expectations. It is, however, too early to forecast the pattern that will emerge as production approaches the level of national demand. Discussions with the industry are continuing.
§ Mr. Skeet
asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) how he proposes, consequent upon Mr. Ray Willmott's statement in a speech in San Antonio, to implement the proposal that two-thirds of North Sea oil production should be refined in the United Kingdom; and under what section of a current Act of Parliament he would inhibit exports of crude oil to existing customers in the Community;
(2) up to what volume of production of crude oil from the North Sea he will insist that two-thirds of Continental Shelf production must be refined in the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Benn
The Government's policy on the refining of North Sea oil was announced by my right hon. Friend, the 377W previous Secretary of State, on 6th December 1974—[Vol. 882, c. 646–8]. He said that it would be reasonable to expect up to two-thirds of North Sea oil to be refined here, depending on the level of production, and that it was our aim to implement this policy through discussions with the companies concerned. These points were repeated in Mr. Willmott's San Antonio speech, which also made it clear that the two-thirds expectation applied up to the point where production at least reaches the level of national demand.