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North Sea: Hutton Field Platform

Volume 414: debated on Thursday 13 November 1980

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3.11 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the second Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much, in both percentage and financial terms, of the design and construction costs of the tension leg platform authorised for installation by Conoco on the Hutton Field of the United Kingdom continental shelf will be provided by British and Scottish sources respectively.

My Lords, design work for the tension leg platform is largely being carried out in the United Kingdom and this phase is not expected to be completed before the summer of 1981. It is not possible at this stage to assess either the value or percentage of orders which may ultimately be placed with United Kingdom industry. Conoco have, however, indicated to the Department of Energy that they expect United Kingdom industry to win a substantial level of orders in both the design and construction of the platform. We shall be monitoring that position very closely.

My Lords, in thanking my noble friend for that reply, may I ask him whether he can refer to Scottish participation, since the Question referred to both British and Scottish sources respectively.

Yes, my Lords; of course, Scottish provision would also be covered by my original Answer.

My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl whether a tension leg platform would qualify for a shipbuilding grant under Finance for Industry?

My Lords, when is a ship not a ship? When it is a tension leg, I imagine. I would have to be given notice of that question, but I will write to the noble Lord.

My Lords, is it not the case that this is a very important new generation of platforms which is coming into view, opening up a completely new area of technology? Would my noble friend agree that, because of that, it is most important that these orders all come to the United Kingdom and we are not beaten by Korea, Yugoslavia and other countries which seem to be able to compete so successfully.

My Lords, as a Minister with employment responsibilities, I am, of course, extremely interested in the point my noble friend makes, and I agree with him. I am encouraged that this technology is developing here. It should have very wide applications in, for example, the future development of deep waters all round the world.