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North Sea Gas Flaring

Volume 448: debated on Tuesday 14 February 1984

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2.49 p.m.

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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the current level of gas flaring in the North Sea and what was the corresponding level in 1979.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy
(The Earl of Avon)

My Lords, provisional figures for 1983 show that the average volume of gas flared from the United Kingdom North Sea operations has continued to fall. It is now just under 10 million cubic metres per day, compared with 18 million cubic metres per day in 1979, while oil production from the United Kingdom Continental Shelf has increased in this time by 30 per cent.

My Lords, while thanking my noble friend for that very encouraging reply, will he indicate what further measures the Government intend to take on energy conservation, since gas flaring has been equated with the waste of resources?

My Lords, the Government have consistently produced a tough policy on wasteful flaring with the objective of reducing and minimising flaring wherever this is economically and technically feasible. We shall continue to keep a very tight control on flaring to meet this objective.

My Lords, does the noble Earl the Minister not agree that, even though it is a reduced figure, 10 million cubic feet a day of gas flamed is indeed very wasteful? Would it not be as well if the Government were now to revive the project for a gas gathering pipeline, which seems to have foundered since it was left to private enterprise?

My Lords, I believe we ought to pay tribute to the decrease in gas flaring and the work which the industry has done in that field. So far as gathering pipelines are concerned, the commissioning under private industry of FLAGS—the Far North Liquids and Gas System—the Western Leg gas pipeline, the gas handling facilities at Sullom Voe during 1982, and the partial commissioning of the Northern Leg gas pipeline in 1983 have now contributed to the further reduction in flaring.

My Lords, can the noble Earl tell the House whether any of the gas available is pumped back to repressurise the wells and thus make future recovery of oil easier?

My Lords, I cannot answer the noble Earl's question directly but I will say that a lot of gas is reinjected so that it can be collected later.

My Lords, can the noble Earl say what is the level of gas flaring in Westminster at the present time?

My Lords, if the noble Lord would like to put that question down, I am sure that my noble colleague would like to answer it.