§ Mr. Raffan
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if the Government have yet been able to attract private investment for the Point of Ayr coal-to-oil liquefaction project.
§ Mr. Peter Walker
[pursuant to the reply, 26 February, c. 364]: I am pleased to announce that the Department of Energy will now be making available support of about £2.5 million for British Coal's liquefaction project at Point of Ayr, Clwyd, North Wales. This will cover the period of construction, commissioning and operation, and follows the signing by British Coal of an agreement with Ruhrkohle Oil and Gas, a subsidiary of the largest German coal-producing group, Ruhrkohle, bringing it into the project on a non-exclusive basis. Departmental support for this stage of the project had been conditional on British Coal's securing acceptable private sector participation.
This important project is at an advanced stage of construction and should be commissioned early next year. The construction phase to date has been funded by British Coal with support from the European Commission. I trust that the new agreement marks the beginning of increasing industrial interest in this process.