§ Mr. Raymond S. Robertson
To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he will publish the Ernst and Young report into the relocation of the petroleum engineering directorate to Aberdeen.
§ Mr. Eggar
The Government have today published in full the report by Ernst and Young on the arguments for and against relocating the professional geologists and engineers of the DTI's oil and gas division—formerly the petroleum engineering directorate—to Aberdeen. A copy of the report has been placed in the Library of the House.
While the report showed there was no clear case for moving all the DTI's petroleum engineering directorate —PED—to Aberdeen, it did raise some wider issues. Ernst and Young's comprehensive analysis led the Government to examine the case for improving the service the DTI offers those companies who choose to locate in Aberdeen. We can improve the service to those companies by providing multi-disciplinary teams in Aberdeen. I am pleased to announce that during the coming year the DTI will open an office in Aberdeen to provide key DTI services to that part of the oil and gas industry based there.
Initially, the office will consist of 60 people and provide services which until now have only been available from DTI headquarters. In particular the new office will take the nationwide lead in the issue of field development consents 499W and in considering abandonment programmes. It will also process development applications—annex Bs—from companies based in Aberdeen.
The office will be expanded to 80 staff over the next two years if, as expected, additional companies move essential functions to Aberdeen. All this will create a climate which should help the successful development of the oil -supply and service companies located there.
The setting up of the new office is an acknowledgement of the importance of Aberdeen as an established centre for both the United Kingdom and international oil and gas industry and of Aberdeen's potential for future growth.