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North Sea Oil (Landing)

Volume 897: debated on Monday 4 August 1975

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11.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy when he expects the first consignment of North Sea oil to land at Grangemouth.

British Petroleum is in close touch with my Department and keeps us fully informed of progress. It is not practicable to state a precise date, but BP advises me that it expects the first oil to arrive about the end of October at Grangemouth. Production at the wellhead will have started some weeks before then and the interval is required to fill up the long pipelines under sea and on land.

In order properly to celebrate this auspicious occasion, will my hon. Friend organise a reception, to which would be invited representatives of BP, the Scottish TUC, local Labour councillors, Members of Parliament and his own good self, all of whom are working hard to provide more jobs for Scottish workers in the oil idustry? Will he also confirm that virtually every drop of oil from the Forties field will be piped to Grangemouth? Does he agree that certain remarks made a few weeks ago when the first batch of North Sea oil was landed in the Thames Estuary were merely typical of the churlish chauvinism of the Scottish National Party?

My hon. Friend has interesting ideas on the question which no doubt BP will note. I agree that this is a very important occasion and one worthy of widespread celebration. In relation to the comparison with the Argyll field, I am glad to note that my hon. Friend is seized of the point. What is ridiculous in certain comments about the Argyll field situation is that on any median line basis it would fall in the English sector and that for others to claim it is simply economic nationalism or imperialism on their part.

When the oil flows freely to Grangemouth, will the hon. Gentleman indicate whether the Government are of opinion that the present refining capacity is sufficient to cope with it or whether it is likely that further refineries will be required? Will he make a statement on that subject to an early date?

My right hon. Friend the former Secretary of State for Energy made an extremely important statement on refining policy on 6th December, and that remains the general view of the Government. The main problem in relation to North Sea oil is changing the type of refining capacity so that it can take North Sea oil instead of the crude oil from the Middle East which has been the traditional source of supply.