§ Mr. John Smith
My right hon. Friend will be publishing this month estimates of production and reserves of oil and gas in the 1975 Report to Parliament.
§ Mr. Smith
Like all enterprises in the North Sea, ours are subject to the accidents of working in such a hostile environment. It is especially disappointing that there will be a hold-up in production from the Argyll field due to the damage done to the production riser. This is one of the difficulties which cannot be avoided in North Sea oil development. There will be less oil landed this year than was thought at one time. We believe, however, that the targets for the 1980s will be maintained.
§ Mr. Viggers
A great deal of wind on this subject has come from the Government. Is Government policy itself, which involves the taking of participation in the 795 North Sea fields, accepted by the Government as being the cause of delay in North Sea development?
§ Mr. Gray
Will the hon. Gentleman assure the House that the Government have not been influenced by representations from the Scottish National Party, with its attitude for cutting back in exploration for oil? In view of what the Minister has said, it is worrying for many Opposition Members to feel that there may be some tendency for the Government to yield to pressures from the nationalists.
§ Mr. Wigley
Can the Minister give us some indication of the development of Celtic Sea oil and say whether there is any truth in the story going the rounds in Wales that Celtic Sea oil development is being delayed because of the pressure being put on North Sea oil? Is there any land-based development in terms of ports and adjacent land for Celtic Sea oil development?
§ Mr. Smith
There is a difference of opinion between the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru. The latter is all for speedy oil development in the waters off Wales. Obviously the Government are interested in future exploration in the seas round Wales, and Wales already shares to a considerable extent in the 796 offshore oil market. At the moment, however, attention is being concentrated on the prolific fields east of the Shetlands. That is understandable since that is where strikes are most likely to be made.