890g.6363 T 84/30
The Acting Secretary of State to the British Ambassador (Geddes)
Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note No. 99 of February 11, 1922, quoting an article which appeared in the International Petroleum Reporter of January 25, 1922, relating to the ownership of stock in the Turkish Petroleum Company. You state that in 1914 fifty per cent, of the stock of this Company was held by the D’Arcy Exploration Company, a subsidiary of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, twenty-five per cent, by the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company, and twenty-five per cent, by the Deutsche Bank, that during the war the twenty-five per cent, interest held by the Deutsche Bank passed into the hands of the British Public Trustee as Custodian of Enemy Property, that this twenty-five per cent, interest now stands in the name of a nominee of the British Government, that it is to be transferred to French interests under the provisions of the San Remo Petroleum Agreement, and that there has never been any intention on the part of the British Government of holding this interest permanently.
It appears that a representative of the International Petroleum Reporter recently inspected at the Department of Commerce a White Paper, entitled “British Government Investments in Registered Companies,” which by order of the House of Commons, November 10, 1921, has been printed and published. According to this document, the British Board of Trade had invested up to September 30, [Page 336] 1921, the sum of £40,000 in shares of the Turkish Petroleum Company. It is reasonable to suppose that the article in question may have been based upon this information, and this Government, of course, is not responsible in any way for the version which appeared in the press.
I understand that a report of the Turkish Petroleum Company, issued as of December 20, 1921, contains information regarding the share holdings in the company. It occurs to me that you may wish in the light of this report to give me a further and perhaps more specific statement of the present situation. If you care to do this, I shall be glad to take whatever action may seem appropriate for the purpose of removing any public misapprehensions which may possibly have arisen.
I must add, however, that in the light of the correspondence which has been exchanged between our two Governments on the subject of equality of opportunity in the mandate territories,60 and particularly the claims of the Turkish Petroleum Company in Mesopotamia, the meaning of your statement that the twenty-five per cent interest held by a nominee of the British Government is to be transferred to French interests under the San Remo Petroleum Agreement is not entirely clear. You have in mind, apparently, the provisions of that Agreement which, without mentioning the Turkish Petroleum Company, make certain references to Mesopotamian oil. As you are aware, however, the San Remo Petroleum Agreement has not been recognized by this Government as applicable to the disposition of economic opportunities in mandate territories.