Gas Prices

Trade and Industry written question – answered on 6th November 2001.

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Photo of Paddy Tipping Paddy Tipping Labour, Sherwood

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry by what means she will measure the effectiveness of her strategy to address high gas prices; and over what timescale.

Photo of Mr Brian Wilson Mr Brian Wilson Minister of State (Industry and Energy), Department of Trade and Industry

holding answer 29 October 2001

The Government's three point strategy to address high gas prices is:

1. to work to for greater market liberalisation in Europe

2. to work for improvements in the British gas market

3. to take action against any anti-competitive activity.

We shall monitor the market regularly to see how effective this strategy has been in enabling British consumers to access gas at competitive prices without damaging price spikes.

There has already been good progress with the strategy. The publication in March by the EU Commission of a revised draft Gas Directive was a positive step towards greater European liberalisation. On 10 September we held a joint workshop with the United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association (UKOOA) to consider how greater information flows between the offshore and the onshore could improve the market and I intend to maintain the momentum on this issue.

Interconnector (UK) Ltd. now publishes details of flows with a one day lag instead of the previous six week delay. We have also been working with IUK and interconnector shippers on improvements to interconnector governance and marketing arrangements. I understand that the European Commission's competition inquiry into the operation of the interconnector, which was instituted at the request of the Government, is now in its final stages.

However, I should warn against expectations of immediate success as this strategy is liable to be a lengthy process.

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