10. Mr. E. P. Smith
asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will make a comprehensive statement on the development and exploitation of oil fields in these islands, and whether geological surveys indicate that these can be substantially increased.
§ The Minister of Fuel and Power (Mr. Shinwell)
As the answer has to be long and contains some figures, I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Following is the reply:
§ Since the passing of the Petroleum (Production) Act, 1934, 191 prospecting licences have been issued covering in the aggregate an area of 30,000 square miles; 80 of these licences covering 12,800 square miles are still in force and two mining licences are in preparation. Applications for a number of new prospecting licences are under consideration.
§ The early searches proved disappointing but between 1939 and 1943 three small fields were discovered in Nottinghamshire. The output from these, and from smaller previous discoveries in Midlothian and Lancashire, rose to more than 100,000 tons in 1943. Production has since declined and is now running at about 70,000 tons a year. The oil is of good quality and the fields now being worked are expected to yield for some years, though at a diminishing rate. From 1939, when the first discovery under the 1934 legislation was made, until the present time, about 400,000 tons of crude oil have been won.
§ The extensive oil surveys and borings which have been carried out during the last ten years have provided valuable information about the geology and 1893 mineral resources in the sub-soil. So far as oil prospects are concerned, there is a reasonable expectation that further producing structures may be found. The possibilities cannot however be proved until tested by drilling.