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North Sea Oil (Depletion Policy)

Volume 990: debated on Monday 4 August 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he has decided, in the interests of depletion policy, to constitute any part of the North Sea continental shelf as a national reserve.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether it is proposed that flexible depletion rules will apply only to commercial fields above a specified barrelage.

No. Decisions will be taken on a case by case basis in the light of all relevant factors.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many oil discoveries to date on the United Kingdom continental shelf have become eligible for depletion under the rules announced by his predecessor on 6 December 1974.

I refer my hon. Friend to appendix 2 in my report to Parliament of June 1980 "Development of the oil and gas resources of the United Kingdom"—the "Brown Book". That appendix lists 23 oil discoveries announced between the beginning of 1976 and the end of 1979 which would in principle be eligible for development delay within the terms of the assurances given by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Varley) on 6 December 1974 and which we have reaffirmed.My right hon. Friend made clear in his written answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Waldegrave) on 23 July that we would take decisions to a case by case basis giving emphasis to the need to limit the sharpness of the peak in production in the mid-1980s.