HC Deb 23 March 1999 vol 328 cc141-2W
Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the number of(a) businesses and (b) British oil companies operating in the North Sea which have adequately dealt with the millennium bug to date. [77694]

Mr. Battle

[holding answer 22 March 1999]: The offshore oil industry together with the other key UK utilities and services are providing regular public reports on their state of Y2K compliance through the Action 2000-National Infrastructure Forum arrangements, and also via the Action 2000 and UKOOA Internet sites.

DTI, acting through UKOOA, the trade body which represents UK offshore oil operators, has asked companies to provide assessments of their state of Y2K preparedness. All these assessments are either being carried out by peer group reviewers or by entirely independent organisations. In addition WS Atkins have been appointed by DTI to provide an independent validation of the results of these assessments. WS Atkins aim to report their findings to DTI in early April, so they can be included in the presentation which the DTI will make to the National Infrastructure Forum meeting on 21 April.

An analysis of the first completed assessments already shows the majority of the companies to be in the "blue" category (the assessment has not identified any risks of material disruption). The activities which remain in the "amber" category (the assessment indicates that there is some risk of material disruption, but that there is an agreed containment plan to rectify shortcomings) relate to outstanding work on external dependencies, staffing and contingency plans which are scheduled for completion by end October.

Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the adequacy of measures taken to deal with the millennium bug in Britain's(a) nuclear and (b) conventional power stations. [77691]

Mr. Battle

[holding answer 22 March 1999]: The Office of Electricity Regulation announced the findings of an independent assessment of the whole electricity industry on 17 March. The results show that the sector is on course to beat the millennium bug.

74 per cent. of generation plant is judged to already have Action 2000 "blue" status, meaning that the assessment has not identified any risks of material disruption. Most remaining compliance work is expected to be completed by the end of June, with a few systems programmed for later completion, by September. The assessors were satisfied that sufficient resources were available for this work to be completed in time for the millennium.

The Nuclear Industries Inspectorate, the UK body responsible for regulating the safe operation of Nuclear Generating Stations, has carried out a full assessment of nuclear plant and is satisfied that this plant will function safely over the century date change period.

My Department is closely monitoring the preparations being made in the electricity sector for the millennium.