The Minister in Egypt (Howell) to the Secretary of State

No. 968

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my Despatch No. 898, of October 22, 1926, and to the Department’s telegram No. 4, of February 4, [Page 579] 1927, as well as to previous and subsequent correspondence on the question of storage of petroleum products in floating barges in Alexandria harbour contrary to Egyptian regulations.

It will be recalled that in my telegram No. 7, under date of February 23, 1927, I recommended that no further action be taken in this matter until the British reply to my memorandum, left with the High Commissioner on February 8, 1927, had been received. I am just now in receipt of the High Commissioner’s reply to the memorandum above mentioned and am herewith enclosing a copy of it.

It will be observed, by the enclosed note from the High Commissioner, that the opinion expressed in my telegram under reference with regard to the attitude of the British upon this question was a correct one. I very much doubt, in the circumstances, as above pointed out, whether any further steps should be taken at this time by us with a view to eliminating these barges from the harbour of Alexandria, as permitted by the Egyptian Government, notwithstanding the fact that they seem to be operating in violation of the regulations of the Egyptian Government controlling the storage and sale of petroleum products.

I shall at once communicate to the Vacuum Oil Company the situation as viewed by the Residency and await further instructions from the Department.

I have [etc.]

J. Morton Howell

The British High Commissioner in Egypt (Lloyd) to the American Minister (Howell)

L 1102/163

Sir: I have the honour to refer to the conversation which Your Excellency had with me some days ago regarding the floating Petroleum depots at Alexandria, and to inform Your Excellency that I have closely studied the memorandum on the subject which Your Excellency was good enough to leave with me.29

The information at my disposal would seem to show that the state of affairs in the harbour has greatly improved since the Vacuum Oil Company’s memorandum of October 7th last30 was handed to Your Excellency. I am moreover advised that in the opinion of the competent authorities of the Egyptian Government the maintenance of these floating depots is definitely advantageous to the country, and that they are satisfied that the steps now taken to provide for the security of the shipping in the harbour are reasonably adequate. [Page 580] I am indeed informed that the present land installations at Alexandria are themselves very unsatisfactory in this respect.
In the circumstances therefore I think Your Excellency will agree with me that no combined action on our part would now seem to be required. I would however suggest for Your Excellency’s consideration the propriety of affording the Egyptian Government an opportunity of answering the criticisms contained in the Vacuum Oil Company’s memorandum, should the latter still hold to the views contained therein. In making the above suggestion Your Excellency will, I trust, realise that I in no way wish to intervene in a matter which is not within my competence and in regard to which the decision must of course rest with Your Excellency alone.
I shall be happy, should Your Excellency so desire, to discuss this question with Your Excellency at any time and to afford Your Excellency all assistance which it may be in my power to provide.

I avail myself [etc.]

  1. Copy not found in Department files.
  2. See ante, p. 577.