The decision of the British Government to lay the pipe lines to bring the oil from the Mosul fields to the Mediterranean via Haifa, Palestine, instead of a Syrian port, which is under French mandate, has stirred the French government to determine a course of action which may have wide international consequences, it is revealed in a despatch from Paris to the New York “Times.”
The correspondent, Edwin L. James, learns that the French government is soon to begin conversations with Germany, Italy, Spain and other European countries which produce no oil, for the purpose of uniting these governments to counteract what is regarded by the French to be the danger of a world oil trust. This oil trust, it is alleged in Paris, is based on agreements among American, British and Dutch oil interests. Such a trust, which the French allege is already in existence, constitutes a danger not only to the economic but to the national interests of the countries which may have to depend entirely on the trust for their oil supplies, needed for commercial and military purposes. The purpose of the negotiations to be undertaken by the French government, the correspondent learns, would be to organize the market of these oil interests and to force the American, English and Dutch oil interests to concessions. The possibility of getting oil from Russia and from Roumania is one of the objects in view. The establishment of government monopolies for oil is another weapon to be employed.
Representations to this effect are to be made to London and Washington in the near future.
“It is charged in the French capital that failure to have a pipe line for Mosul oil built across Syria to a Mediterranean port controlled by the French, which is the shortest route, is due to a plot between the American and British oil companies to prevent France having direct contact with the Mosul fields, one-fourth of the productions of which goes to the French,” the correspondent writes.
“It might be that British oil companies are already carrying out this decision and that American interests are working with them, but, nevertheless the change in plans represents British governmental action. It will be recalled that one-fourth of Mosul oil goes to the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, controlled by the British Government; one-fourth to the American group; one-fourth to the Royal Dutch interests and the remaining fourth to the French. The French not being able to build a pipe line for their fourth now face the prospect of the oil to which they are entitled being in the last analysis controlled by the British.
“To build a pipe line over the longer Palestine route would cost many millions additional, but the British appear to regard their reasons as sufficient to justify this expense.
“In an article in the ‘Matin.’ by Jules Sauerwein, which is known to be of a semi-official character, it is said:
” ‘Against this mighty alliance being built in the United States between the great oil trusts the French Government intends to fight inch by inch. It will, if necessary, associate itself with other non-producing countries. Energetic representations will soon be made to Washington and London to draw the attention of those governments to the plans of these trusts. France must keep her eyes open and not lose the Mosul oil which belongs to her by virtue of the accords of San Remo.’
“Thus the thorny question of control of Mosul oil threatens to raise the first ripple in Franco-British relations since the renewal of their practical partnership some six months ago. The ripple might turn into a wave if France tries to form a Continental consortium for the purchase of oil supplies from the Soviets,” the correspondent states.