REGARDING Fred Shawcross's column (LET, May 15).

I read it online in Saigon, Vietnam, where I am assisting in the design of a drilling campaign for offshore Vietnam 2005.

I have known Fred for a long time since we used to travel down to London on the train together in the days of the Today newspaper.

I think his comments are very valid and it is time that the UK government was made accountable for just what happened in the North Sea. What actually happened was they taxed the oil companies so much that as soon as they could contractually cut back they did.

As usual, there were all the promises in the world to encourage everyone to get operational and then they changed the playing field.

The North Sea Operation leads the world in engineering expertise and environmental control and regulations. it is the benchmark for the industry. Even here in the Vietnam sea I am designing everything to North Sea specifications.

The UK and Norway have the finest product in the industry but unfortunately the Government put it on the back burner. Let's see if at the next election someone or party will make this asset into an issue again.

DAVE POVEY, Leach Street, Blackburn.