No. 254
Memorandum of Conversation, by William McMaster of the Petroleum Policy Staff



  • Discussion of Federal Trade Commission Report on International Petroleum Cartels with Representatives of the British Embassy.2


  • Mr. D. A. Greenhill, First Secretary, British Embassy
  • Mr. J. A. Beckett, Petroleum Attaché, British Embassy
  • Mr. R. W. Bailey, British Embassy
  • Mr. Eakens, Miss Mims, Mr. McMaster—PED

Mr. Greenhill summarized a communication received from the British Foreign Office which indicated that if the FTC report cannot be suppressed the British would favor its publication as soon as possible in order to prevent fragments of the report from leaking to the press and stimulating more interest and doing more harm than outright publication. If the report is to be published they would like to obtain a copy as soon as possible so as to be prepared to meet any possible repercussions. They also believe that it would be desirable for the oil companies involved to have an opportunity to see the report and also to be in a position to rebut the charges made against them.

The British were advised of the nature of the Department’s position in respect to publication of the report. What the report will probably say when and if published was discussed in general terms with particular reference to the history of the Iraq Petroleum Corporation, which is likely to be the most damaging section of the report.

The British representatives stated that their main concern at this time was to provide their Government with advice regarding the action it should take to counteract the impact of publication.

In view of the nature of the charges made in the report and the continuing uncertainty that it will be published, Mr. Greenhill stated that he would advise his Government that for the present they should be thinking up explanations of the charges in the event of publication.

The British representatives felt that publication of the report would of course have serious implications in the Middle East area. They are aware that similar charges have been placed against the oil companies in the past by some Middle East Governments but recognize that publication of the FTC report will tend to confirm those charges.

Before leaving the meeting Mr. Greenhill stated that Mr. Howard A. Cowden, Secretary of the International Cooperative Petroleum Association, has requested a meeting with the British on May 12 to discuss ICPA’s proposal for a solution of the Iranian oil controversy. Mr. Eakens stated that Mr. Cowden had discussed ICPA’s proposal with officers of the Department and that he had been advised that there was no objection to his discussing the proposal with the British but that we had asked him to check back [Page 594] with the Department before he undertook any discussions with Iran.

Mr. Greenhill believed that the British would probably try to discourage ICPA from entering the controversy and wondered to what extent they could go in advising Mr. Cowden of their reasons for discouraging ICPA action. Mr. Eakens said that Mr. Cowden had in the past abided by the advice of the Department in this case and that he believed Mr. Cowden to be completely reliable.

  1. This memorandum of conversation was prepared on May 9.
  2. For additional documentation on this FTC report, see vol. i, Part 2, pp. 1259 ff.