Committee (2nd Day)

Part of Energy Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 9th September 2015.

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Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Conservative 4:15 pm, 9th September 2015

My Lords, following the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, perhaps I may take the opportunity of this amendment to thank my noble friend the Minister for circulating overnight the impact assessment, which we have all read with interest. It does seem to have a discouragingly large number of “Not availables” in various boxes throughout, which rather puts one off. However, I can see that my noble friend has made a considerable effort and I am grateful to him.

The impact assessment states that last January the Oil and Gas Authority began to undertake an urgent piece of work involving industry to come up with practical measures to mitigate the immediate risks that the downturn in oil and gas prices present. That is a high ambition, but we open the papers each morning and read of thousands of redundancies, talk of fields closing down and a real sense of crisis beginning to envelope the industry, as the oil price for Brent crude remains resolutely down at around $50 and much lower for West Texas Intermediate. Can we be assured that as we go through this stage and the Report stage that we have a little more meat on the description of what these practical measures are and how, as the sense of crisis develops, it is going to be mitigated by the work and the powers we are assigning to the Oil and Gas Authority? I think that a new sense of urgency is coming to the debate which may not have been the case in January or when the new authority was set up, but we now need to incorporate that as we handle the legislation that is necessary to send the authority on its way.