asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement about the purchase by Deminex of United Canso Oil and Gas (UK) Limited.
The two companies informed me today that the purchase by Deminex of United Canso Oil and Gas (UK) Ltd., a subsidiary of United Canso Oil and Gas Ltd. of Canada, has now been completed. United Canso Oil and Gas (UK) Ltd. is a licensee in Block No. 211/18 which contains the Thistle field, as well as in Block 106/28 in Cardigan Bay where it is in partnership with the British Gas Corporation. Deminex sought my agreement to the transaction and I have informed the company that I have no objection. Deminex is in principle prepared to accept 51 per cent. State participation in United Canso's interest in the Thistle field, the terms and conditions of which remain to be negotiated.In my answer to a Question from my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Queen's Park (Mr. McElhone) on 19th December—[Vol. 883, c. 572–573.]—I informed the House of the assurance given to the Halibut Group that, subject to the obtaining of the necessary parliamentary authority, in the event of a failure by United Canso Oil and Gas (UK) Ltd. to meet its share of any cash call made in respect of the development of the Thistle field, and in the absence of any alternative acceptable arrangement, the Government would take over the interest of that company. In view of the purchase of United Canso Oil and Gas (UK) Ltd. by Deminex this assurance no longer applies so far as that company is concerned. The contingent liability of the Government under the assurance to the group is now estimated at present to total up to £25 million.