Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Petroleum Division (Eakens)


Subject: Proposals made to the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce by Petroleos Mexicanos during the Committee’s visit to Mexico, August 17–September 3, 1948.

Participants: Mr. Andrew Stevenson } Members of professional staff of House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce.
Mr. A. E. Stockberger
Mr. Eakens—PED

During the time the Committee was in Mexico, Senator Bermudez, Director General of Pemex, made certain proposals to the Committee concerning aid desired from the United States. These proposals were not made either in my presence or in that of any of our Embassy officials, and since the return of the Committee the Chairman has not been willing to inform the Department concerning them.

A few days ago I told Mr. Stevenson that we were giving consideration to the Mexican petroleum problem and that it seemed desirable that we know Senator Bermudez’ views regarding the aid he would like to have from the United States. Mr. Stevenson said that he would take this question up with Chairman Wolverton. A short time afterward he telephoned to say that Mr. Wolverton did not feel that he would be in a position to discuss the Mexican proposals with the Department until his return from the Committee’s trip to Venezuela. Mr. [Page 611] Stevenson said, however, that we might meet anyway before he left for Venezuela and informally exchange views regarding Mexican oil. This was the general frame of reference of our meeting.

By implication Mr. Stevenson disclosed what we had previously suspected, that Pemex was interested in obtaining a large loan from the United States for Petroleos Mexicanos. According to Mr. Stevenson, Senator Bermudez did, not expect any loan to be made without reservations and requirements on the part of the United States, nor would he want such a loan in order that Pemex would continue to conduct all petroleum exploration and development operations in Mexico. Mr. Stevenson said that Senator Bermudez recognizes that Pemex needs the assistance of the private oil companies in the development of additional oil production. Mr. Stevenson stated that Pemex now seems to be very close to signing one or more contracts with American companies for oil development in Mexico. [Information available to the Department at this time does not substantiate that this is a fact.]1

Mr. Stevenson emphasized in the discussion his view that the important thing to do now in regard to Mexico is to get a large-scale exploration program started. With this I agreed. I asked him, however, whether he considered that provision could be made for such an exploration program without providing for the problems that would arise in connection with oil production when and if new fields were discovered. He said that his thinking had not gone that far and that he did not know whether the exploration phase of the problem could satisfactorily be separated from the questions connected with production. I expressed the view that, since in the last analysis it is the production that is important to us, any action taken would need to cover this phase of the problem.

We talked about the need for full and frank discussions with Bermudez concerning the possible area of cooperation between the United States and Mexico. From the discussion it appeared that the Committee does not consider that it has had sufficient discussions along this line for the purposes of its report. Mr. Stevenson said that there may be an opportunity for such discussions when the Committee stops in Mexico on its return from Venezuela.

At one point Mr. Stevenson expressed the opinion that the Committee has gone about far enough with the Mexican oil problem and that the problem ought now to be turned over to the Executive Branch of the Government for action.

Upon the return of Chairman Wolverton and members of the Committee and the Committee staff from Venezuela, and from their stopover [Page 612] on the return trip at Mexico City for further discussions with Pemex, it should be possible to have a more satisfactory meeting with the Committee on this problem.

  1. Brackets appear in the source text.