Part of Energy Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:25 am on 26 January 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change 9:25, 26 January 2016

Mr Bailey, it is a great pleasure to play a role in the Committee scrutinising this very important Energy Bill, and I thank all hon. Members for being here this morning. I hope we are going to have some very interesting discussions.

Sir Ian Wood published his review on 24 February 2014. It concluded that the UK continental shelf is a very different and more complex operating environment now than in the past. The review proposed four key recommendations, which the Government accepted in full at the time of publication and reconfirmed in our response published on 16 July 2014. The four key proposals were: first, the adoption of a cohesive tripartite approach between the regulator, the Treasury and industry in developing and implementing a new shared strategy called maximising economic recovery UK, or MER UK; secondly, the establishment of a new arm’s length regulator; thirdly, the introduction of a suite of additional regulatory powers for the new regulator; and fourthly, the development and implementation of new sector strategies on issues such as exploration and decommissioning cost reduction.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change is making strong progress in implementing the recommendations of the Wood review. In particular, the principle of maximising economic recovery of offshore UK petroleum was established in the Infrastructure Act 2015. We also took a power in that Act to charge a levy to fund the OGA. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the OGA was initially established as an Executive agency but will become a Government company as a result of this Bill. Classification as a Government company will enable the OGA to have operational independence from Government and will provide a more suitable platform and the regulatory certainty that the industry requires to invest in exploration and production activity. It will also allow the OGA the necessary operational freedoms to recruit high-calibre individuals in a competitive employment market.

To be very clear, there are very well known precedents for Government companies, including the Prudential Regulation Authority, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Highways Agency. The Government-owned company is a private company under the Companies Act 2006, limited by shares, with the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change as the sole shareholder. The Secretary of State will appoint the chair and a non-executive director to the board. Of course as the hon. Gentleman knows, the OGA has a new independent chief executive who is already making strong progress. We absolutely support the establishment of the OGA in the terms in which it has been set up.