Natural Gas

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Power – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th July 1967.

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Photo of Mr John Osborn Mr John Osborn , Sheffield, Hallam 12:00 am, 4th July 1967

asked the Minister of Power what percentage of the natural gas imported into this country now comes from the Middle East or North Africa.

Photo of Mr David Webster Mr David Webster , Weston-Super-Mare

asked the Minister of Power what discussions he has had with natural gas suppliers outside the Middle East and North Africa, to ensure continuity of supplies to the Natural Gas Council until such time as those requirements can be met from the North Sea or Europe.

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

All imports are obtained from Algeria. There are other sources of natural gas outside North Africa and the Middle East, but in view of the time and capital investment required to provide plant to liquefy the gas for transport to the U.K., they cannot at present be regarded as an alternative to Algerian supplies.

Photo of Mr John Osborn Mr John Osborn , Sheffield, Hallam

Are the Press reports true that shipments are still being held up? Are the Press reports true that the liquefaction plant at Arzew is closed down? Can the Minister assure us that there are sufficient supplies to carry us over a number of months before the North Sea supply becomes available?

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

There are no problems in terms of shortage of supply at the moment. We have stocks, as well. There are clearly difficulties in this field, though some supplies have reached us. I do not want to pursue the matter further at this stage.

Photo of Mr David Webster Mr David Webster , Weston-Super-Mare

What impediment has been placed on the import of natural gas from Algeria and what percentage of the contracted amount for the last month has been imported?

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

Supplies have been continuing subject to some minor dislocation, but the position at the moment is still too uncertain for me to be able to give any detailed reply.

Photo of Mr Edwin Wainwright Mr Edwin Wainwright , Dearne Valley

As this costs twice as much, as reflected in the London price, as does gas from the North Sea, and as the arrangements were made under a Tory Government, what does my right hon. Friend intend to do to cancel the contract if it is not accepted officially by the Algerian Government?

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

This is not a contract between the Algerian Government and this Government. It is between a commercial company and the Gas Council. There are clauses in the contract which would make it difficult to review, even if we wanted to do so. The main point is that the amount of Algerian methane is a very small proportion of the total gas feed-stocks, and so far there is no evidence that it is not a valuable contract.

Photo of Mr Derek Page Mr Derek Page , King's Lynn

asked the Minister of Power what steps he is taking to evaluate the possible uses of natural gas for non-fuel purposes.

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

Studies on absorption of natural gas have included non-fuel uses which are mainly in chemical processes. The scope for using natural gas for this or any other non-fuel purposes will depend upon comparative costs and other conditions of supply.

Photo of Mr Derek Page Mr Derek Page , King's Lynn

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the tremendous import savings and the job generation which can be brought about by chemical and metallurgical firms if the gas is made available for feedstock and on-site total enegry generation? Will he make sure that no obstacle is placed in the way of such development?