The Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of State
Dear Mr. Secretary: The Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered your letter of 15 December 194317 which outlines the policy the Department of State believes should be followed in regard to the construction of refinery facilities in the Persian Gulf area.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff in their 99th Meeting on 3 August 1943 approved plans for the construction in Saudi Arabia of a refinery designed for an initial throughput of 100,000 barrels per day of Saudi Arabian crude to yield 20,700 barrels per day of Grade 130 aviation fuel and other products.
The Petroleum Reserves Corporation undertook the handling of the plans for the proposed refinery in connection with its negotiations for part ownership in the crude oil reserves in Saudi Arabia. It was unable to conclude a satisfactory arrangement with the companies interested in the Saudi Arabia concession and asked to be relieved of the responsibility of further consideration of refinery construction in the Persian Gulf area.
On 18 November 1943 the Joint Chiefs of Staff relieved Petroleum Reserves Corporation of the duty of further consideration at that time of refinery construction in the Persian Gulf area and requested the Petroleum Administrator for War18 to develop plans for the construction of additional refining facilities in that general area.
In a letter dated 18 January 194419 the Petroleum Administrator for War has advised that after having surveyed the situation primarily from the standpoint of military supply requirements, it is felt that [Page 21] new refining facilities in the Persian Gulf area to meet approximately the objectives originally scheduled can be provided most expeditiously and with minimum cost through the construction of a single refinery in Saudi Arabia. This letter recommends the construction of a plant with a crude oil charging capacity of 100,000 barrels daily to produce 15,500 barrels of Grade 130 aviation fuel and other products in conformity with established refining practice.
Because of various changes in factors affecting military supply, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have recommended the construction of a 50,000 barrel refinery in the Persian Gulf area, such plant to have no facilities for the processing of Grade 130 aviation fuel in its initial phase but so designed that equipment to produce aviation fuel and/or additional motor gasoline may be installed if changes in requirements make such steps advisable. Should the outcome of studies now being undertaken by the Petroleum Administration for War indicate the need for additional facilities in the Persian Gulf area, the Joint Chiefs of Staff will give careful consideration to such recommendations as may be made by the Petroleum Administration for War. A copy of letter from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Petroleum Administrator for War approving the construction of the refinery in Saudi Arabia is being furnished you.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff are in essential agreement with the thought expressed in the final paragraph of your letter of 15 December 1943 that those refining facilities best in accord with over-all American interests in the Middle Eastern area should be given priority to the maximum extent compatible with direct war needs. Copies of this letter are being sent to the Secretaries of War and Navy and to the Petroleum Administrator for War.21
Admiral, U. S. Navy Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy
- Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. iv, p. 950.↩
- Harold L. Ickes.↩
- Not printed. This letter was addressed to Admiral Ernest J. King of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was Commander in Chief of the United States Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations; a copy was transmitted to the Secretary of State by the Petroleum Administrator for War on January 18 (800.6363/1468).↩
- For text of statement made by the Petroleum Administrator for War on February 3, 1944, that the Arabian American Oil Company would undertake the construction of a privately owned and financed refinery in Saudi Arabia, see Congressional Record, vol. 90, pt. 2, p. 1466.↩