§ Mr. Skeet
asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will permit companies operating licences in the North Sea to negotiate farm-out agreements with other companies without (a) having to grant first option to the British National Oil Corporation and (b) granting a carried interest to the Corporation.
§ Mr. David Howell
The review of BNOC is well in train but it will still be a few weeks before it is completed and decisions taken. In the meantime, however, I have decided that the public corporations (British National Oil Corporation and British Gas Corporation) should no longer have a first option on assignments of offshore petroleum licence rights. From now on licensees wishing to assign such rights will not have to offer them first to BNOC or BGC. This decision should give further encouragement to exploration, and I shall have this consideration very much in mind when examining applications for my consent to assignments.