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Written Parliamentary Questions: 12th January 2006

Gas

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the recent reduction in gas production from mixed oil and gas fields. (John Hemming)
A:Production of "associated gas" from the mixed oil and gas fields located principally in the northern and central North Sea has varied over time for a number of reasons. The rate of production is affected by contractual nominations, by planned and unplanned maintenance, by the effect of investment in new production or injection wells or well workovers in existing fields, by the effect of past production reducing reservoir pressure in existing fields and by the effect of new fields coming into production. Total associated gas production from the UK continental shelf peaked in 2002 and has since declined. Production from new fields coming on-stream has not matched the decline in production from existing fields, though there have been significant changes from month to month. Production in August 2005 was particularly low, with reduced deliveries at all four of the main coastal landing terminals (CATS, FLAGS, SAGE and SEAL), but by October production was back close to the level of a year earlier. (Malcolm Wicks, Minister of State (Energy), Department of Trade and Industry)

Gas

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what incentives there are for oil and gas producers to maintain gas production from mixed fields.(John Hemming)
A:Producers of oil and gas have commercial incentives to produce gas, whether that is "dry gas" from the gas fields found principally in the southern basin of the north sea and in the Irish sea or "associated gas" from the mixed oil and gas fields located principally in the northern and central north sea. The rate of production can be affected by contractual nominations, by planned and unplanned maintenance and by the effect of investment in new production, in injection wells or in well workovers.(Malcolm Wicks, Minister of State (Energy), Department of Trade and Industry)

Passports

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 24 November 2005, Official Report, column 2319W, on passports, how many of those whose passport photographs were rejected were under five-years-old; and whether he plans to change the categories of rejection for the passport photographs of the under-fives. (John Hemming)
A:During the period 12 September to 27 November 2005, 15,441 child passport applications were rejected due to photographic standards for children five and under.

On 21 November 2005, the UK Passport Service (UKPS) simplified its photograph standards for children aged five and under. It remains important that the photograph shows a clear image that is a true likeness of the child, with all facial features clearly visible. However, photographs of children five years and under will be accepted if they show the child smiling or frowning, with their mouth open, their eyes looking away from the camera, and reflection or glare on their glasses. Babies under one year do not need to have their eyes open.

Work is in progress to communicate these simplified requirements to customers. On 22 November 2005 a notice was added to the UKPS website regarding passport photograph standards. (Malcolm Wicks, Minister of State (Energy), Department of Trade and Industry)

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