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Oil Platform Orders

Volume 932: debated on Monday 16 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is his estimate of the number of oil platform orders likely to be placed in 1977 and 1978, respectively.

As stated in the recent report to Parliament on Development of the Oil and Gas Resources of the United Kingdom—the Brown Book—there are reasonable prospects of four to five orders for major oil production platforms up to mid-1978, with perhaps some additional orders for smaller structures during the same period.

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the Government would not condone the proposal by Redpath Dorman Long Ltd., of Methil, in Fife, to build a platform at a loss purely for the sake of getting the order? Will he confirm that he will not allow this subsidiary of British Steel to compete on these terms with viable profit-making yards elsewhere?

I have written a most charming letter to the hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) explaining that we do not direct orders to any particular site or favour any particular company. The remarks attributed to Sir George Sharp, the Convenor of the Fife Regional Council, have been exaggerated.

May I ask, in a more useful than charming fashion, what research has been done and encouragement given to second generation platforms, say on the tension leg principle, that could be exported to oil developments in other parts of the world?

This is an important possibility. It is amazing how fashion changes in the oil industry. It has moved away from concrete platforms towards steel, but perhaps one day it will return to concrete. The sort of platform mentioned by the hon. Gentleman is under consideration by oil companies almost everywhere in the North Sea.