Higher Oil Prices

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Mr. O'Brien: There are issues in terms of how the price of boilers and of fitting them has risen. We are looking at some of the pressures in the markets, because we are concerned about the demand being placed on some of those who fit the boilers and about the prices that they are charging to fit them.
Some energy companies are also concerned that we do not just pump a lot of money in without getting the result—what the Americans would call the bang for the buck. We want to examine some of the issues relating to the Warm Front market to ensure that we do not just put money in suddenly and see it go to fitters who go around and stick these things in. We need to ensure that the benefits go to the consumer. My hon. Friend is right to say that we need to look at the issue carefully.
Finally, I say again that proposals are coming forward from various companies to increase storage. They have provided us with reassurance that they will be increasing storage by the middle part of the next decade. As the hon. Member for Wealden will know, increasing storage is not easy and is costly, and a lot of investment is required to create storage capacity. So, that will not happen overnight, but the Government want to ensure that these projects come forward and that we have the additional storage in due course.
We depend on a market and on companies responding to the pressures in that market, but at the same time we want to ensure that, as part of the overall objective of my Department and the Government, we get the correct combination of affordable energy that does not damage the environment and is secure. Ensuring that we have security and sufficient rough—sufficient gas storage—is part of that equation.
Question put and agreed to.
That the Committee has considered European Union Document No. 10824/08, Commission Communication on Facing the Challenge of Higher Oil Prices; and welcomes the Government’s support for appropriate action at the European level, where this would be effective in furthering energy efficiency, security of supply and the development of a liberalised energy market within the Union, and the Government’s own response to higher oil prices, in particular the Global Energy Initiative.
Committee rose at eighteen minutes past Six o’clock.
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Prepared 5 November 2008