Memorandum by President Roosevelt to the Under Secretary of State (Welles)76

I don’t think this high octane gas from Mexico is at all in a difficult situation. Nor do I think that the construction of 100-octane gasoline plant requires decisions in regard to any other oil matters. Surely by now the Mexican Government has the ownership and control of some oil well or oil wells. What is more simple than for the Mexican Government to buy at cost or to rent the necessary equipment for 100-octane production, to hire somebody to set it up, and to hire some American company’s management to turn out the gasoline?

Frankly, I think that on that basis there would not be a single voice raised in Mexico against that kind of deal. The octane gasoline desired is solely for war purposes. The United Nations need it. They ought to have it.

I cannot see the relationship between this immediate need and the “clarification of general petroleum policy”. I don’t agree either with you or Mr. Ickes77 in this regard.

If you don’t want any 3rd party in this production, get the Interior engineer to do it.

F[ranklin] D. R[oosevelt]
  1. On November 27, 1942, there was transmitted to President Roosevelt a statement (812.6363/7802) of the opposition of the Department to the building of a high octane gasoline plant by reason of the scarcity of equipment, and of its disapproval of the plan of E. W. Pauley to build such a plant because it suggested a type of exploitation which might invite a repetition of earlier difficulties. President Roosevelt on December 7, 1942, directed the Secretary of State to collaborate with the Petroleum Coordinator and the Secretary of Commerce to negotiate an arrangement with Mexico for building the 100-octane aviation gasoline plant (812.6363/7802).
  2. Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the Interior and Petroleum Administrator.