Oil Extraction.

Oral Answers to Questions — Coal Industry. – in the House of Commons on 6th December 1938.

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Photo of Mr Joseph Batey Mr Joseph Batey , Spennymoor

asked the Secretary for Mines whether the extraction of oil from coal at Billingham has been a success or not; and can he state the amount of coal consumed per month?

Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

As regards the first part of the question, the Falmouth Committee carried out an investigation into the working of the hydrogenation process, and I am not in a position to add anything to what is contained in their report, particularly paragraphs 130 to 176. The answer to the second part is that during 1937 the coal consumed at the Billingham Plant for hydrogenation and all other purposes was 440,000 tons, or an average of 37,000 tons per month.

Photo of Mr Joseph Batey Mr Joseph Batey , Spennymoor

Has the Minister asked the company whether the process is a success?

Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

The word "success" is a purely relative term, and I do not think anybody would be likely to make an assertion one way or the other.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

How long are we to wait before the company is in a position to say whether the process is a commercial success? Have we not waited for nearly three years and is it not about time we had some further information on this process?

Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

If the hon. Gentleman refers to the paragraphs of the Falmouth report to which I have referred his hon. Friend, he will see plenty of information on which to base his own opinion.

Photo of Mr Jack Lawson Mr Jack Lawson , Chester-le-Street

Have the Government any means of regularly testing whether this process is a success? As the Government make contributions in one form or another, should they not have some means of testing the experiments?

Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

We do not make any test. Different people may have different views as to what the word "success" may mean.

Photo of Mr Joseph Batey Mr Joseph Batey , Spennymoor

asked the Secretary for Mines the number of tons of coal consumed per month in Germany, and also in Great Britain, in the extraction of oil from coal?

Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

I regret that the information requested about Germany is not available. As regards this country, the only coal used for the direct production of oil is that consumed at the Billingham hydrogenation plant, the figure for which I have just given to the hon. Member. In addition, considerable quantities of coal are used at by-product coke ovens, gas works and low-temperature carbonisation plants, where oil is not the primary product. Figures for the consumption of coal for these purposes are given on pages 20, 176 and 177 of my Department's Annual Report for 1937.

Photo of Mr Joseph Batey Mr Joseph Batey , Spennymoor

Has the Minister tried to get an answer from Germany?

Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

The hon. Gentleman and the House are aware that there are no official statistics on this subject available from Germany.