71. Memorandum From the Federal Energy Administration Representative for Antarctic Treaty Matters (Dugger) to the Chairman of the Antarctic Policy Group, Political Working Party (Burton)1 2



In your recent memorandum, you asked for FEA views on the action plan called for in NSDM 263 and the principles and detailed organizational and legal approaches applicable to a possible internationally agreed arrangement.

NSDM 263 called in fact for an action program dealing with diplomatic and political steps which might be taken to achieve U.S. policy objectives regarding Antarctic mineral resources. However, the actions we have taken since NSDM 263, and the international events related to the Antarctic Treaty anticipated for 1977, appear to dictate the preparation of a broader and more complex plan which will insure that we are adequately prepared to maintain our position of leadership in the Antarctic Treaty forum.

  • First, I am concerned that we must move toward an Antarctic resources regime with all deliberate speed, and that the Action Program must so reflect. Development of a regime would be, of course, without prejudice to when and whether exploitation takes place. However, a major energy crunch is likely to face us in the closing years of this century when our own oil will be nearly gone and OPEC’s will be rapidly drying up. The need for new areas to exploit is likely to be acute, and rising oil prices will have put within the ball park areas which are now uneconomic. Based on both the Gulf and Battelle figures, both of course highly speculative, exploitation will be several times more expensive than in the U.S. but this will not necessarily preclude exploitation. A policy of “voluntary restraint while seeking timely agreed solutions” will wash only so long as there is a genuine forward movement.
  • Second, the Action Program should encompass the full range of actions, and if some cannot be dealt with in this length paper or at this time, there should be references to annexes or later documents. The following are some topics which I feel should be included.

Political/Diplomatic Initiatives. We should outline bilateral consultations and other initiatives through capitals that should be undertaken prior to the Ninth Consultative Meeting next September, and beyond that if we are capable of looking that far ahead.

Advisory Committee. By whatever name, this problem is burgeoning and must be faced. I recognize the very real perils of having a large number of industry/NGO involved, but if we do nothing it will be worse, and we will be charged with favoritism if we brief only those with whom we deal regularly. A plan is needed.

Experts Meeting. In view of their meeting in conjunction with the Ninth Consultative, we need to develop positions and backup materials.

Public Initiatives. A few well-chosen words by selected officials, mentioning what a good job the Treaty powers are doing, some low-key press along the same lines, to counter the impression in the G–77 that if they can’t see what we’re doing it must be bad.

Contingency Plans. We should review and update our planning on actions if Antarctica surfaces as a major issue in LOS or the General Assembly, or if any nation or firm undertakes commercial exploration.

Handling of Applications for Consultative Status. This could be the subject of a separate memorandum.

Tasks for Existing Working Parties. Schedule the efforts over the next year or so.

As to the detailed examination of principles and organizational and legal approaches which might support an internationally agreed arrangement, I believe you are familiar with my agency’s views, as expressed in our work prior to last summer’s Special Preparatory Meeting.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, L/OES Files: Lot 93 D 558, Antarctica USG 1976. Confidential.
  2. The memorandum recommended an enhanced plan of action in preparation for the Ninth Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting.