135. Editorial Note

Following Egyptian nationalization of the Suez Canal Company on July 26, steps were taken in Washington to begin planning emergency measures to ensure Europe’s oil supply in the event the Canal was closed. In early August, the Director of the Office of Oil and Gas in the Department of the Interior, Hugh Stewart, acting in his capacity as Chairman of the Foreign Petroleum Supply Committee (FPSC) met with industry representatives on the committee and prepared a plan of action which called for the establishment of a Middle East Emergency Committee (MEEC), composed of representatives of American petroleum companies engaged in foreign operations.

The flow of Middle East oil to Europe all but completely halted after the outbreak of hostilities in the Middle East on October 29. Passage through the Suez Canal was blocked on November 1, when the Egyptian ship Akka was sunk in the Canal near Lake Timsah. The Iraqi pipeline ceased to function on November 3, when three pumping [Page 316] stations in Syria were sabotaged. On November 30, the U.S. Government reactivated the Middle East Emergency Committee and set in motion the plan to meet Europe’s petroleum needs.

Regarding the sabotage of the Iraqi pipeline, see volume XIII, pages 593 ff. For documentation on U.S. interest in the European oil supply problem, within the context of the Suez Canal crisis, see volumes XV and XVI.

In February 1957, the United States Senate held hearings on government and industry participation in emergency oil planning before and during the Suez Crisis. For additional information, see U.S. Congress, Senate, Joint Hearings before Subcommittees of the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, United States Senate, Eighty-Fifth Congress, First Session (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1957), parts 1–4. Documentation relating to the hearings is in the Eisenhower Library, Fred. A. Seaton Papers.