Will the Secretary of State confirm that one of the Ministers was the Nigerian Minister? Will he accept that if there is an oil price war between Nigeria and ourselves the British National Oil Corporation will be seriously hurt? Is it not in Britain's and Nigeria's interests that we avoid such a conflict?
I sometimes think that the right hon. Gentleman is more concerned about the unterests of Nigeria than the interests of Britain, but I am sure that that is due to the infortunate phrasing of his question. As I made clear in answer to art earlier question, Britain has no interest in an exaggerated fall in oil prices and will do what it can, within the confines of market forces, to introduce a degree of stability into the market place.
As the Secretary of State is prepared to follow market forces, will he give a specific directive to the BNOC under the Petroleum and Submarine Pipe-lines Act to do precisely that and to follow the market price downwards so that the differentials are corrected and so that people buy North sea oil and do not go to Nigeria for oil?
The amount of oil produced in the North sea depends on the companies. My best guess is that, looking at the profiles of individual fields, North sea production this year will be about the same as last year.