800.6363/1506c: Circular airgram

The Acting Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic Representatives in the American Republics 26

For your strictly confidential information, we are actively engaged in developing a firm post war foreign oil policy. Exploratory conversations will soon be initiated between this Government and the British Government on problems of mutual interest concerning Middle Eastern oil. It is quite possible that these conversations will lead to international oil discussions of a broader scope.

On February 2, the Secretary met with the heads of the American companies operating abroad and with the President of the American Petroleum Institute and advised them of the forthcoming conversations with the British and indicated the Department’s interest in foreign petroleum matters. American oil companies with foreign interests are being encouraged to present their views and problems to the Department, and are discussing with the Department their interest in and endeavors to obtain foreign concessions. The Department is informing them that this Government, because of the wartime and long-range importance of oil, favors the development of foreign oil resources and welcomes the participation of American companies in that development.

This Government takes the clear position that, if any country grants to foreigners rights concerning the exploration for or development of petroleum resources, the nationals of the United States should be accorded equal opportunity with the nationals of any other country to obtain such rights. With this end in view, if the occasion arises, you should render all appropriate assistance to representatives of [Page 24] American oil companies who may be seeking petroleum concessions or rights in the country to which you are accredited. This assistance should include such introductions by you as may facilitate proper contacts between the companies’ representatives and government officials and other persons where desirable. To the maximum extent appropriate, in the light of the foregoing policy, you should indicate an interest in the matter to government officials.

The Department desires you to maintain such contact with any oil company representatives, who may be engaged in the above-indicated endeavors, as will encourage them to keep you advised of their activities.

The Department wishes to be kept fully and currently informed of any action taken by the Embassy in line with the foregoing.


[For the texts of messages exchanged by President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill on February 20, 22, 24, and March 4, concerning the ownership of oil resources in the Middle East, see volume III, pages 100, 101, 102, and 103; see also the portion of a message of March 3 in footnote 10, ibid., page 103.]

  1. Sent to the diplomatic representatives in Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Venezuela.