765.84/3723: Telegram

The Consul at Geneva (Gilbert) to the Secretary of State

61. The following appear to me to be the chief elements of the report of the Committee of Experts on oil embargo which was issued this morning.92

Consumption: estimated at 3,500,000 tons in 1935 including in the last 5 months 20 to 30 thousand per month in the theatre of war.

[Page 110]

Stocks: including supplies en route estimated at 3 to 3½ months supply.

Supply: the report states that “in the event of such an embargo being applied by all states members of the Coordination Committee it would be effective if the United States of America was to limit its exports [to Italy to the normal level of its exports] prior to 1935. If such an embargo were applied by the states members of the Coordination Committee alone, the only effect it would have on Italy would be to render the purchase of petroleum more difficult and expensive.” Attention is called to the fact that during the last few months exports from the United States to Italy have shown a very large increase. Special attention is also called to the position of Venezuela. The report states that 80% of its production only reached the consuming countries through the Netherlands West Indies but it is pointed out that most of the remaining 20% is sent to the United States and that there is no reason why this proportion could not be increased and further that no technical reason exists why Venezuela oil could not be sent to Italy for refining. I understand that a reference in the original draft of the report to the fact that Venezuela was not applying proposals 3 and 4 was eliminated on the objection of the Venezuela representative.

Substitutes: the report states that in view of the possibility of substitutes being used to some extent for petrol, an embargo on the export of petroleum would be strengthened were it extended to cover industrial alcohol and benzol.

Transport: “the effectiveness of an embargo imposed by states members of the Coordination Committee on the transport of oil to Italy is subject to the same limitations as an embargo on exports. Were these states alone to prohibit the use of tankers for the transport of oil to Italy, it would be able to satisfy its needs up to about 50% from its own resources, and the rest by means of vessels of other states, but with greater difficulty and at greater expense”. If an embargo on transport should be decided on, Committee is of the opinion that the most practicable form of embargo would be one which would prohibit tankers, belonging member states, from proceeding to Italy and would also prohibit the sale of tankers to states not applying the embargo. Lacking detailed information, the Committee was unable to estimate the extent of the difficulties which would be encountered in applying this prohibition to vessels already on time charter.

Special attention is drawn to the tanker tonnage of the United States and Germany.

  1. For text, see League of Nations, Official Journal, Special Supplement No. 148, p. 64.