Statement of the American Delegate (Welles) at the Meeting of the Inter-American Financial and Economic Advisory Committee, October 30, 1941

Two or three months ago the American republics were faced with a shortage in tank ships that made a severe reduction in oil supplies to the Atlantic Coast of the United States and to the other American republics seem imminent. In this situation my Government established a program for the efficient utilization of all United States facilities for the delivery of petroleum and, in a statement which was presented to this Committee on September 4, invited the cooperation of the other American republics. Prompt action in coordinating the petroleum delivery facilities of the United States, in accordance with the principles set forth in this plan, resulted in immediate and substantial economies in transportation. Regardless of ownership of either tank ships or oil, supplies began to be moved into each country from the nearest source. Partial discharge of one ship at several ports was eliminated where practicable, thus minimizing the movement of tankers with only one-half or one-third of a cargo. Lost time has been reduced in various other ways.

Many of the other American governments indicated their desire to cooperate in the program suggested by my Government, and their petroleum distribution facilities were coordinated with those of the United States.

As a result of this inter-American collaboration, the rapid depletion of reserve inventories has been checked, and, while the full possibilities of this joint effort have not yet been secured, I can say that the tank ships presently available are now used with such efficiency that the current requirements of each country in this hemisphere can be met one hundred percent, and very soon reserve inventories will begin to build up at substantial rates.

This reversal in situation, from threatened depletion of reserve stocks and rationed consumption to full supply and gradual replenishment of inventories, has resulted from hemispheric cooperation. Credit goes equally to all who have taken part.

I can say further that we expect that within the next two months the tank ship tonnage supplying the American republics will substantially be increased. With this increase and the additional gains [Page 183] in efficiency that should be possible with complete collaboration, it is expected that a high degree of security with respect to oil supplies will be assured to this hemisphere.

The maintenance and extension of the cooperative system of petroleum delivery is essential in the attainment of these objectives.