WASHINGTON (Jul. 23)
The opening of the Haifa refinery is not expected to result in any immediate switch in U.S. oil policy in the Middle East, according to officials here. The oil companies, with deposits and concessions in the Arab countries, have opposed support for Israel on the grounds of endangering the U.S. oil supply.
Despite official disclaimers, however, observers here believe that eventual acceptance of the new situation in the Middle East by the oil companies is inevitable, especially if expected deposits in the Negev are confirmed. Consolidated Refinery, ltd, the company which runs the Haifa plant, is an all-British corporation, although two U.S. companies–Standard Oil of New Jersey and Socony Vacuum–have a 23.5 percent interest in the Iraq pipeline which supplies it. Socony Vacuum also has marketed, some of the Haifa refinery products.
It is understood that the agreement to open the refinery was reached following negotiations which have taken place here and in London between Israeli officials and the oil companies. It is reported that the Israelis offered the oil companies a guarantee of the security of the refinery and its Arab personnel. They indicated willingness to accept only that amount of the production allotted previously to the Palestine area–about 25 percent of the daily output. Israel officials also promised to allow refinery production to be shipped anywhere the companies desire, including the Arab countries.