Gas (Supply and Demand)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:51 pm on 14th March 2006.

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Photo of Alan Johnson Alan Johnson Secretary of State for Trade and Industry 3:51 pm, 14th March 2006

Last year there were a record number of licences for exploration in the North sea, and we are pleased by the amount of interest there. All the major explorers have continued to make the point that they are interested in looking for supplies in the North sea, but increasingly they are looking longer for fewer resources. In the spirit of knockabout it is good to suggest that there is a magic wand that we could wave to put the situation right this winter. All that we can do is put it into context and make the argument about what needs to be done to rectify the situation for British business. What is needed is liberalisation in the European Union and more investment in pipeline facilities and storage. Some £10 billion of investment will be made by the private sector—we would never have been able to do that in the public sector—in the next few years. It is easy to exaggerate the problems and the situation in the UK, but it is incumbent on us to put the issues in perspective and to repeat yet again that there is no emergency.