Oral Answers to Questions — North Sea Oil (Export)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd May 1976.

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Photo of Mr Trevor Skeet Mr Trevor Skeet , Bedford 12:00 am, 3rd May 1976

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether North Sea oil will be freely available for export in the 1980s.

Photo of Mr Tony Benn Mr Tony Benn , Bristol South East

We have always envisaged that North Sea oil that we do not need for our own purposes will be exported, and the amount could be substantial in the 1980s.

Photo of Mr Trevor Skeet Mr Trevor Skeet , Bedford

Does the Secretary of State agree with the statement by Mr. Willmott that two-thirds of the North Sea oil must be refined here? Does he agree that that is tantamount to putting a qualification on the amount of oil that can go abroad? As the refinery mix is 25 per cent. low sulphur and the remainder lower-grade oil, would it not be advantageous to the balance of payments to export more than was first anticipated?

Photo of Mr Robert Bean Mr Robert Bean , Rochester and Chatham

It is unusual to refer in the House to statements of civil servants, but the reference made by the civil servant in the United States followed precisely the statement made in the House in December 1974. We are anxious to maximise the benefits for this country from North Sea oil. It follows, from the type of oil coming from the North Sea compared with the needs of this country, that we shall be trading in oil by exporting and importing. That is the broad thinking behind the policy that we have announced, including our desire that up to two-thirds of the oil should be refined in the United Kingdom.