§ Mr. Dobson
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action she has taken to investigate reports that speculation in oil and gas is helping to drive up prices. 
§ Mr. Timms
[holding answer 7 June 2004]: While speculation may be playing a role, there are a number of other factors supporting current oil prices including unanticipated strong demand, tight capacities upstream and downstream, and geopolitical uncertainties.
The oil price is one driver of UK gas wholesale spot and forward prices, as is the market's perception of gas demand and supply. In order to inform the gas market about UK gas market fundamentals, on 24 May 04, the DTI published the Fourth JESS Report which, among other things, monitors the availability of gas supplies, the adequacy of the UK's gas infrastructure, and gas forward prices.