867.602 Ot 81/182

Memorandum by the Acting Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs, Department of State (Robbins)

memorandum for the secretary

On June 10th Mr. John MacArthur, [Vice] President of the Ottoman Development Company [Ottoman-American Exploration Company], [Page 923] called at the Department at my request, in order to discuss with me the question of the Chester Oil project, which has been under the Department’s consideration since 1909. As you will remember Admiral Chester, accompanied by his son and Admiral Rousseau, called on you on various occasions and finally presented a letter signed by Mr. MacArthur, requesting that Admiral Chester, as representative of the Ottoman Development Company, be given the assistance of the Department in the securing of the old Chester project. Doctor Cumberland was good enough to join in the conference with Mr. MacArthur and myself, as well as Doctor Carlson.41

We explained to Mr. MacArthur very definitely, as I had on previous occasions to Admiral Chester, that while his people had all but obtained the concession in 1912, this concession had never been actually secured owing to the fact that the Turkish Congress went into recess and was not subsequently convened because of the war with Italy. It was definitely stated to Mr. MacArthur that his Company had never obtained the concession and that in view of the fact that the United States had taken a definite stand against the Turkish Petroleum Company, to which an order for an oil concession was given by the Grand Vizier, we could scarcely favor the recommendation of the Chester project.

Doctor Cumberland and I also explained to Mr. MacArthur that the situation was such in Anatolia that it would be impossible to obtain any concession from the Turkish Government. It was suggested to him, however, that when conditions became more normal, the United States Government would without doubt look with favor to obtaining oil concessions in Anatolia, Mesopotamia and Cilicia.

Doctor Cumberland asked Mr. MacArthur what chances his Company would have for obtaining the concession if this Government should take the position that no valid concessions had been granted in this territory. Mr. MacArthur answered that he did not know, but he supposed they had to start all over again, which would be rather difficult.

Mr. MacArthur was then asked whether his Company had approached the Standard Oil Company concerning this matter, to which he replied that it had not done so, although officials of the Standard Oil had endeavored to speak with him on this matter. He gave as a reason for not discussing this question with the Standard Oil that he had not considered himself at liberty to commit himself in any way, not knowing what the Department’s desires were as regards his Company’s acquiring the Chester concession. Mr. MacArthur then inquired definitely of Doctor Cumberland whether there was any objection to his getting in touch with the Standard Oil [Page 924] Company or any other large oil Company for the furtherance of his interests in Anatolia. Doctor Cumberland replied that he could not commit the Department on this matter but that talking as one business man to another, he could see no objection.

W. R[obbins]
  1. Of the Office of the Foreign Trade Adviser.