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North Sea Oil (Licences)

Volume 977: debated on Tuesday 29 January 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) if he is satisfied with the present method of allocating North Sea oil licences; and what possible changes he is considering to the present method of allocating them;(2) what discussions he is having, and with whom, on possible changes in the way licences are allocated in the North Sea in the forthcoming seventh round; and if he will bring forward proposals to produce additional revenue from the allocation of North Sea oil licences.

Successive Administrations have relied almost exclusively on the present method of allocating offshore oil and gas licences, which has achieved the objective of encouraging the exploration and development of our Continental Shelf. It is, nonetheless, sensible to keep valid alternatives under examination. As part of that examination I have asked for the industry's comments on cash bidding for licences but entirely without commitment in regard to the seventh round. I have also invited comments about arrangements for the round from organisations within and outside the industry. I shall make a statement about the definitive arrangements when I have completed the consultations.