HC Deb 11 May 1978 vol 949 cc573-4W
Mr. Skeet

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he proposes to introduce a system of phased consents for oilfield development programmes in the sixth round; and whether he has had consultations with the industry about the full implementation of such a policy.

Dr. Mabon

Licensees discussing or submitting development programmes for new offshore oilfields, irrespective of the round under which the licence concerned was issued, have, since last autumn been invited to consider how their need for certainty about future oil production rates can be reconciled with the inherent uncertainty about the actual size, nature and performance of oil reservoirs, which can only be substantially determined after significant development and production experience has been gained. From these discussions there is emerging a system of initial approval and second stage consent, issued simultaneously, which should provide the licensees with the long-term confidence they need to proceed with major investments and yet afford the regulatory Department an opportunity to review the situation and prospects as and when significant production and reservoir performance experience has been obtained. In addition to discussions with individual licensees, there have been discussions with the United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association committee concerned. All the discussions held so far refer to discoveries made under licences issued in the first to fourth rounds, but I expect similar discussions to be instituted with licensees who propose the development of discoveries made under licences issued in the fifth and sixth rounds.

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