HC Deb 30 March 2000 vol 347 cc242-3W
Mr. Doran

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to implement Article 23 of the Gas Directive (98/30/EC) in respect of access to upstream pipeline networks. [117465]

Mrs. Liddell

I have today issued a consultation document outlining proposals to implement those aspects of the Gas Directive which apply to upstream pipeline networks.

The consultation document outlines proposals to amend the Pipelines Act 1962 and the Petroleum Act 1998 in order to give effect to Article 23 of the Gas Directive by placing a duty on upstream pipeline owners to consider applications for access to their pipelines against certain criteria and placing certain new duties and powers on the Secretary of State to settle disputes between pipeline owners and applicants for access.

As many upstream pipelines carry a complex mix of hydrocarbons from which gas and oil may be extracted at a processing facility, the consultation document proposes applying the provisions of Article 23 of the Directive to certain upstream pipelines which carry either gas or oil or both. It proposes a definition of "upstream pipeline network" which would include offshore and onshore pipelines of any length carrying gas or oil from an oil or gas production field to processing terminals in the United Kingdom or carrying gas to terminals in another country. The definition would also include pipelines carrying gas directly from a production field to a power station or industrial plant.

The consultation document seeks views on all of these proposals and, in particular, on how the interconnecting pipeline between the United Kingdom and Belgium should be regarded for the purposes of the Directive.

The proposals clarify certain aspects of the Pipelines Act 1962 and the Petroleum Act 1998, in particular the Secretary of State's role as the dispute settlement authority, and reflect current practice in the offshore industry under the Offshore Infrastructure Code of Practice. The material impact on business is expected to be negligible.

Comments on the consultation document have been requested by 30 May 2000.

A copy of that document has been placed in the Library of the House. The document is also available on the Department's website (www.og.dti.uk).