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[Page 134]

45. Study Prepared in the Office of Research and Reports, Directorate of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency1

THE IMPORTANCE AND AVAILABILITY OF IRANIAN OIL TO
THE USSR UNDER PEACETIME CONDITIONS

[Omitted here is a Foreword.]

Summary

For the purposes of this paper it is assumed that: (1) the USSR will be willing to invest the necessary effort to exploit Iranian oil; (2) the USSR will gain unlimited access to Iranian oil production under circumstances short of global war;2 and (3) the USSR and Iran will not have access to USUK controlled tankers or technicians.

This paper is limited to a discussion of the developments during the first year of substantial oil shipments from Iran to the Soviet Orbit. It does not consider the transition period3 that would be necessary for starting up the refinery and acquiring such transportation facilities as additional tankers and railroad rolling stock as might be needed.

The potential importance of Iranian oil to the Soviet Orbit is indicated by the estimate that during the first year following the transition period the Soviet Orbit could import and utilize approximately 2,900,000 metric tons of petroleum products. The USSR, if necessary, could supply the technicians and materials required to operate the refinery at this level. The volume of imports could be increased in subsequent years as more and more transportation facilities become available and the level of production rises.

Of the 2.9 million tons of petroleum products which the Soviet Orbit could import during the first year, the USSR could provide [Page 135]tankers for the movement of approximately 1.6 million tons to the Soviet Far East and Communist China. In this way, the Soviet Union could take care of the minimum petroleum needs of the Communist Far East which cannot be met by local production. The use of the sea route would also relieve the overworked Trans-Siberian Railroad of its present haul of Soviet petroleum products, which amounts to more than 10 percent of its total West to East traffic. The remaining 1.3 million tons of petroleum products could be shipped by rail from Abadan to Bandar Shah and thence by tanker to any of the Caspian Sea ports. The large amount of extra rolling stock and locomotives required for the Abadan-Bandar Shah railroad could be supplied by the Soviet Orbit without seriously depleting its tankcar and locomotive park.

The estimated Soviet Orbit imports would, during the the first year, amount to only 12 percent of the 1950 production of the Abadan refinery. Nevertheless, the Government of Iran could remain solvent at this level of production because the net income derived from Iranian operation would be about the same as that realized from operation by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company at the 1950 production level.

In summary, it seems apparent that with Soviet cooperation Iran could succeed in operating its petroleum industry even if the Western powers (1) withdrew their technicians, (2) stopped buying Iranian petroleum products, and (3) withheld all shipping under their control.

[Omitted here is the 13-page body of the study with an attached appendix, two tables, and a map.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, ORR Files, Job 79S01097A, Box 1, Folder 14, SIC/Z–14L(1)/51, The Importance and Availability of Iranian Oil to the USSR under Peacetime Conditions. Top Secret; SUEDE; Dissemination to U.S. Personnel Cleared for Special Intelligence Information. Sent to DCI, G–2, ONI, AIR, State, AFSA, NSC, JCS, and OCI.
  2. The bulk of Iranian petroleum products must be moved to the USSR by sea through waters dominated by Western powers. [Footnote is in the original.]
  3. This paper makes no attempt to estimate either the time required to place the Abadan facilities in production again or the length of time necessary to put into operation the rail and sea transportation facilities for carrying Abadan production. The refinery has been shut down since 1 August 1951. AIOC officials estimate it would take their own technicians two to three months to restore full operation of the refinery. Technicians not experienced with the plant might require up to nine months to restore full production. [Footnote is in the original.]