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Miners' Pension Fund

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions he has had with the trustees of the Miners' Pension Fund with regard to the Government's share of the fund surplus. [68418]

Mr. Wilson: The Department is having ongoing discussions with the trustees of the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme and the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme to review the arrangements for the Government's guarantee of members' basic pension benefits as

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I announced on 17 January. The review will consider how best to ensure that there continues to be an equitable sharing of risks and rewards.

Payment of Bills

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of bills were paid on time by Government Departments and their agencies during the financial year 2000–01. [71802]

Nigel Griffiths: The overall payment performance of Government is 95.86 per cent. Figures for the financial year 2000–01 show that there has been a slight decrease in overall performance this year. However, there has been an improvement in the payment performance of a number of Departments and agencies with 60 per cent. achieving the average and 20 per cent. paying 99 per cent. or more of their invoices on time.

Government Departments and their agencies are required to monitor their payment performance and to publish the results in their departmental or annual reports. The table lists, by Department, the proportion of bills paid within 30 days, or other agreed credit period, of receipt of a valid invoice.

Main DepartmentsPercentage for each Department paid on time
Ministry of Defence100.00
National Investment and Loans Office100.00
Privy Council Office99.70
Scotland Office(1)99.51
Office of Water Services99.45
Office of Telecommunications99.30
Public Records Office99.14
Land Registry99.07
Department for Culture, Media and Sport99.05
Inland Revenue98.90
Health and Safety Executive98.86
HM Treasury98.74
Office of the Rail Regulator98.71
Government Actuary's Department98.57
Office for National Statistics98.30
DTLR Total98.28
DTI and its agencies97.68
Export Credit Guarantee Department97.94
Ordnance Survey97.84
HM Customs and Excise97.38
Charity Commission97.10
Department for National Savings and Investments96.90
Forestry Commission96.73
Department for International Development96.62
Treasury Solicitors Department96.50
Foreign and Commonwealth Office96.39
Cabinet Office (OPS)95.75
Lord Chancellor's Department (Overall Total)95.14
Department for Education and Skills95.09
Department of Health (Total of DOH and agencies)94.97
Home Office (agencies) (Total)94.58
Food Standards Agency93.88
Northern Ireland Office93.81
Crown Prosecution Service93.69
Office for Government Commerce (OGC)93.29
Department for Work and Pensions93.01
Office of Fair Trading92.65
Serious Fraud Office91.29
Office for Standards in Education88.61
Royal Mint88.25
Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM)87.72
DEFRA (includes all agencies in totals)86.99
Wales Office86.67
Total percentage paid on time95.86

(1) Figures only available to 31 Dec 2001

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Petroleum Licensing

Miss Begg: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to her answer of 16 January 2002, Official Report, column 323W, on petroleum licensing, what decisions she has made on licence awards in the 20th Offshore Licensing Round. [72019]

Mr. Wilson: I have decided to award 25 production licences to licence groups made up of 33 different companies. They include six companies acquiring their first offshore licences as well as more familiar names, and range from the super-giants to small new niche players.

It is encouraging that so many companies see further opportunities for investment and development in the North sea's core areas, even after nearly 40 years of

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intensive exploration there. It bodes well for future licensing rounds, which will cover a lot of acreage that, by contrast, is still under-explored and under-exploited. The DTI, with PILOT (formerly the Oil and Gas Industry Task Force), will seek to give every opportunity to small, innovative companies eager to exploit the UK's hydrocarbon resources with new technology. I am particularly delighted to see the response from newcomers who fully understand the potential rewards still to be made in the North sea.

In an effort to concentrate licensees' minds and prevent the appearance of fallow acreage in future, in pursuit of recommendations by PILOT I have made some significant changes to the licences compared with earlier versions. The first two terms will last for four years each instead of six and 12 years respectively, and there will be a mandatory relinquishment of all acreage that is not covered by a development plan at the end of the second term. The Government will also be enabled to publish information three years after receiving it, instead of five (or at licence surrender, whichever is sooner). All this is part of the Government's strategy of bringing together acreage and the companies best fitted to exploit it.

The companies within each licence group (with the operator named first), the blocks covered and a brief resumé of the Work Programmes, are as follows:

Companies (operator first) Block(s)Work Programme—firm commitments unless indicated otherwise: (K) Contingent commitments; (D/D)Drill or Drop commitments Marks(2)
Talisman, Intrepid14/18cReprocess 3D seismic data    83
1 well (D/D)   
EnCana, OMV, Paladin15/18b, 15/19b1 well   
Reprocess 3D seismic data    117
1 well (K)   
Kerr McGee, EDC, Enterprise(3)15/20a1 well   
Reprocess 3D seismic data   
Perform one Front End Engineering and Design Study    156
1 well (K)   
Acquire 3D seismic data (K)   
OilExCo(4)15/25bAcquire 3D seismic data   
Reprocess 3D seismic data    42
1 well (D/D)   
OilExCo(4)15/25cAcquire 3D seismic data   
Reprocess 3D seismic data    38
1 well (D/D)   
EnCana, Paladin, Tullow, Montrose15/28cReprocess 3D seismic data    71
1 well (D/D)   
Phillips, EnCana16/18bReprocess 3D seismic data    78
1 well (D/D)   
EnCana, Intrepid, Edinburgh Oil and Gas20/2cAcquire 3D seismic data   
Reprocess 3D seismic data    91
1 well (K)   
EDC, Enterprise, Bow Valley20/3c, 20/7b, 20/81 well   
2 wells (K)    153
Acquire 3D seismic data   
Reprocess 3D seismic data   
Reach(5)20/10b, 20/15, 21/6a, 21/11bAcquire 3D seismic data   
Reprocess 3D seismic data    38
1 well (D/D)   
Kerr McGee21/5b, 22/1c1 well111
Chevron, Gaz De France, Ruhrgas22/2bReprocess 3D seismic data   
1 well (D/D)    116
Acquire 3D seismic data (K)   
Amerada Hess, Agip, Dana23/11Reprocess 3D seismic data    69
1 well (D/D)   
Phillips, Statoil, TotalFinaElf, Agip30/201 well (D/D)    58
Acquire 3D seismic data (K)   
CNR(6)30/25Acquire 3D seismic data    103
1 well (D/D)   
RWE, Consort, Egdon42/27Reprocess 3D seismic data    63
1 well (D/D)   
Gaz De France, Tullow, Consort44/11, 44/12Acquire 3D seismic data    125
1 well (D/D)   
CMS Energy,44/13Acquire 3D seismic data   
Reprocess 3D seismic data    96
1 well (D/D)   
Gaz De France, Tullow, Consort44/16Reprocess 3D seismic data    87
1 well (D/D)   
Conoco, Gaz De France, Tullow44/18b, 44/23bReprocess 3D seismic data    94
1 well (D/D)   
Conoco, Gaz De France, Tullow44/28aReprocess 3D seismic data    94
1 well (D/D)   
British Gas, Amerada Hess47/3hReprocess 3D seismic data    68
1 well (D/D)   
Warwick(7)(3)48–21Acquire 3D seismic data   
1 well (D/D)    57
Perform a Front End Engineering and Design study (K)   
Shell, Esso49/12b, 49/13cAcquire 3D seismic data    84
Reprocess 3D seismic data   
OilExCo(4)49/25b, 50/21Acquire 3D seismic data   
Reprocess 3D seismic data    45
1 well (D/D)   

(2) Marks awarded are not comparable between blocks.

(3) Only parts of these blocks were available for licensing.

(4) Licence offer conditional on creation of a UK (or EU) subsidiary to hold it.

(5) Only parts of these blocks are awarded.

(6) That part of 30/25 that includes part of the Ardmore field is awarded to Tuscan by extending Licence P1035. The remainder of the block is awarded to CNR.

(7) Licence offer conditional on submission of a satisfactory parent company guarantee.

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