241. Telegram From the Mission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to the Department of State 1

20116. CEDTO. Subj: OECD Oil Committee.

Session opened with supply sitrep by Chairman (growing out of pre-session caucus US, UK and Dutch dels).2 France immediately took floor next with strong intervention expressing displeasure meeting called and noting particular concern over “excessive” press coverage. Further stated France felt Mid-East situation should not give us great concern at present and opposed Chairman’s suggestion that agenda include item on action needed.
Noting fluidity of situation chair passed on to round table contributions by members in order round out supply picture. US del (Asst. Secy Interior Moore) presented statement noting our desire cooperate in assessing situation and participate in any plan action commonly agreed upon by committee. At same time we informed group of our plan of action and made clear while we would wish include provisions for company level cooperation between our firms and foreign companies, committee resolution recognizing emergency or threat of emergency—plus council approval—prerequisite.
Netherlands led off for group supporting action by committee to invoke all or part of existing emergency procedures—particularly bringing industry officially on board ASAP—with backing by Sweden, US, UK, Germany and Canada. Several dels, including Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal, Belgium, Denmark and Norway took rather complacent view, noting satisfaction with own stock levels and present general supply situation, but indicated willingness to cooperate. Japan and Greece had received no instructions. France expressed general agreement with idea industry participation as advocated by Dutch but again insisted no decision should be taken at present session. Several dels expressed desire keep out of press results committee deliberations whatever was decided. Piga, Vice Chairman and member Italian del, summarized situation at end general discussion, accused some countries too complacent, and called for bringing industry on board immediately. Belgium countered by suggesting watchdog group to follow developing situation and keep committee up-to-date with daily sitreps. Chair suggested adjournment until afternoon to allow dels to digest info and suggestions so far presented. At this point French, who had been in frequent telephonic contact with ministries, essentially withdrew from session by announcing they would attend afternoon session as observers only. After procedural ruling by Secretariat against observer status, France returned p.m. session as dels but did not participate in debate.
Chair opened re-convened session by tabling three options3 which in his opinion open to group (reported septel) and challenged any del accept third alternative he colorfully described as simply sitting on our bottoms and doing nothing. With French silent, no del advocated do-nothing course and remainder afternoon spent serious discussion which of two remaining alternatives to accept. (Comedy relief provided by drunken Belgian del who frequently intervened to note Belgium small country but great nation and willing cooperate. Sweden del recommended first option, calling on Council to approve partial activation emergency machinery by creating industry advisory group. US del (Hinton) strongly supported Swedes and clearly outlined situation, including fact two-thirds Mid East oil as of now unavailable. Also called on members (1) not to waste insurance afforded by reserve stocks and (2) urged all dels take into account in forming decision fact it much easier for us all to take common action now rather than trying amend later US action plan implemented without provision for working directly [Page 435]with European companies. Noted key point for us to be able do so this stage is resolution by committee recognizing emergency element in present situation.
After considerable discussion, most dels, including Japanese who had received new instructions, lined up behind idea activating Industry Advisory Group. Only vocal active opposition was from Greeks who disclaimed ability receive instructions in less than week, at same time echoing chairman’s suggestion decision be taken only after consultation with governments. Small drafting group composed Secretariat and interested dels to meet ten o’clock tomorrow, June 13, with committee re-convening at 2:30. Chairman appears determined get decision tomorrow in order refer final resolution to Excomm scheduled for June 15 and thereafter to Council.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, PET 3 OECD. Limited Official Use; Immediate. Repeated to The Hague, London, Ottawa, Rome, Tokyo, Ankara, Athens, Bern, Bonn, Brussels, Copenhagen, Dublin, Lisbon, Luxembourg, Madrid, Oslo, Reykjavik, Stockholm, and Vienna. Passed to the White House and USIA.
  2. The three nations represented the largest oil companies in the world, known as the “Seven Sisters.”
  3. The three options were to set up an Industry Advisory Committee, to rely on inter-governmental discussions, or to take no action at all. (Memorandum of conversation, June 20; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, PET 1 OECD)