237. Telegram From the Embassy in Algeria to the Department of State 1

4052. Esso Situation.

Esso, like other US companies, now being administered by Algerian director. Esso reports that its director is operating in a significantly different way from those with other companies and believes it being singled out for unfavorable and discriminatory treatment.
As Embassy reported some weeks ago, Esso already believed it singled out for salami tactics takeover. Company now believes that present situation will eventually be tantamount to a de facto expropriation without formal action by GOA.
Esso manager cites following as examples discriminatory treatment:
Esso manager denied all outside communications within and without country. Telephones cut off and mail censored. He not permitted take papers from office.
Today forced to open his personal safe at gunpoint.
Esso station at Algiers airport has been seized by Sonatrach2 and is now being repainted as Sonatrach station. Station itself is not Esso property, but much Esso equipment was in it. When challenged as to legality this action, Algerian director in apparent slip of tongue said it would be settled in later litigation.
Algerian director appears to be operating under control of marketing division of Sonatrach.
Esso manager has protested and will continue to protest that Algerian director is exceeding his authority in order to protect legal position of company, plans send repeated protests to relevant ministries to establish a record.
UGTA is supporting American management since union apparently feels that unlimited authority Algerian director will allow him to ruin company and seems fear that GOA takeover will leave UGTA in position of docile union in govt enterprises.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, PET 15–2 ALGERIA. Limited Official Use.
  2. Algeria’s national oil entity.