§ Mr. David Stewart
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on his32W Department's policy towards oil and gas companies which hold fallow fields in the United Kingdom Continental Shelf. 
§ Mrs. Liddell
[holding answer 20 December 1999]: The Department's Oil and Gas policy is to encourage exploration and development on the UKCS whilst allowing licence groups the option of which discoveries are brought to development. They are encouraged to relinquish any acreage considered unprospective or non-commercial. A review of fallow blocks and discoveries is currently under way.
The Oil and Gas Industry Task Force has established LIFT (Licence Information for Trading), an on-line information service which allows licensees to advertise licences and assets for sale, trade or form-in. LIFT will encourage more asset trading, by enabling companies to realise their value in a cost-effective way.