255. Telegram From the Embassy in Libya to the Department of State 1

43. Libyan Oil Sitrep—July 3 thru 5. Ref: Tripoli 19 (Notal).2

Announcement evening July 23 that new Badri Cabinet would allow oil exports to France, Spain, Turkey, Greece, Italy and other “friendly” [Page 460]countries, but not to US and UK, has been followed by continuing confusion about other destinations, notably Libya’s biggest market, West Germany. Evening July 4, GOL broadcast policy statement which seems to approve oil exports to all countries other than US and UK, but Petroleum Ministry has so far refused to implement this announced policy.
Situation complicated by open ended oil strike and three-day general strike called evening July 3 by political opposition. Ostensible objective of strike is to extend oil embargo to West Germany, Italy, and Netherlands; real objective is to force replacement of Badri cabinet. GOL moved forcefully against oil union leaders and workers, jailing perhaps as many as 50. Participation of Libyan oil workers in strike has varied inversely with distance from Tripoli: almost complete absenteeism in Tripoli offices, significant absenteeism at Es Sidra (Oasis) and Ras Lanuf (Mobil), some confusion but little absenteeism at Marsa Brega (Esso), and virtually no absenteeism in Benghazi offices and at Marsa Hareega (BP). Although there was an unsuccessful bomb attempt against Oasis office in Tripoli, there have been no known sabotage attempts yet at field installations, despite earlier union threats and GOL fears. In Tripoli, distribution of petroleum products from bulk storage being done at night by expatriates under police guard.
Standby tankers began loading almost immediately after July 2 announcement. Despite necessity using expatriate labor which has slowed down loading at Es Sidra and Ras Lanuf to one tanker at a time, loading continues at maximum rate possible. By evening July 5, five tankers had cleared ports, all bound for one of five approved destinations. Pumping from fields has also begun. By evening July 5, Oasis was pumping at 500,000 bpd; Esso at 450,000 bpd; Mobil/Gensenberg and Amoseas at 170,000 bpd; and BP/Hunt at 100,000 bpd.
Despite continuing political uncertainties, Libya is back in oil business.4
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, PET 17–1 LIBYA. Confidential; Priority. There is no time of transmission on the source text; the telegram was received at 7:05 a.m. Repeated to London, Paris for USOECD, Algiers, Baida, Beirut, Dhahran, Jidda, Kuwait, and Tehran. Passed to the White House, USIA, CIA, DOD, NSA, CINCEUR, and USUN.
  2. Dated July 3. (Ibid.)
  3. The report of the announcement is in telegram 414 from Tripoli, July 2. (Ibid.)
  4. As a July 10 memorandum from Solomon to Eugene Rostow reported, by the next week most other producers of oil were back in at least partial production. The major problem would continue to be the shortage of tanker tonnage. (Ibid., PET 6 IRAN)