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Gas Supply

Volume 528: debated on Thursday 19 May 2011

12. What recent assessment he has made of the security of the UK’s gas supply; and if he will make a statement. (56263)

The statutory security of supply report, published in November, is a joint report of the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Ofgem. It gives a full account of the Government’s latest assessment of the availability of gas to meet the reasonable demands of United Kingdom consumers. It concludes that the outlook for gas supplies is broadly benign but not without risks. The Government keep security of supply under constant review and have proposed measures in the current Energy Bill to further enhance our gas security.

I thank the Minister and accept that the gas supply is a vital part of our future energy needs, but will he reassure me and, more importantly, my constituents that their concerns and their safety will remain paramount considerations in decisions on gas storage sites?

I can absolutely assure my hon. Friend that security and safety are priorities for the Government in developing gas storage facilities. We do need more such facilities; a number are under construction and a number more have been given consent. The planning process will ensure that safety issues are a priority in that work.

Does the Minister accept that the £2 billion robbery of taxation from the North sea oilfields is now threatening the gas supply from that area? Total has told me that it would not have invested in the west of Shetland area if it had known about that tax. The Treasury’s latest proposal to tax every flight that a person takes out into the North sea will further threaten supplies. Will he intervene with the Treasury to stop it robbing North sea oil?

The hon. Gentleman talks about a robbery. I assume that he is going around telling his constituents that he would rather the Chancellor had not reduced fuel duty and cancelled some of Labour’s planned rises. We are determined to ensure that there is ongoing investment, and there is discussion with the Treasury about field allowances. The helicopter issue that he mentions is in a consultation document, which will take its proper course.