TEL AVIV (Jul. 28)
“We reopened the Haifa oil refineries because our oil and gasoline reserves were dangerously low,” Minister of Trade Dr. Fritz Bernstein told a press conference here today.
“Now,” he said, “we have had interesting offers from several countries willing to sell us crude oil for delivery to Haifa, The resumption of operations at the refineries is one of the main victories of our war effort. We do not want war with the British oil companies, but since they did not wish to open the refineries, we did it ourselves,” he added.
Meanwhile, the government has approached two leading United States oil companies with a proposal that they supply crude oil to the Haifa refinery. U.S. authorities have been told that all surplus oil, not required for local consumption, would be made available to the European Recovery Program. At the same time, the authorities were informed that if the United States is unable to supply the Haifa refinery, the Israeli Government will be compelled to accept offers of crude oil from Rumania. It is pointed cut here that the Haifa refinery is capable of supplying 3,000,000 tons for E.R.P. in the next 12 months, which is nearly 20 percent of the total oil allocation.
The Rumanian offer to supply crude oil, it was learned here today, is conditional on Israeli agreement that all surplus refined kerosene will be offered for sale to Eastern Europe first.
Either way, Israeli authorities believe that once the Iraqi see Haifa operating without oil from Kirkuk, they will reconsider their decision to cut off the pipeline flow. That decision, unless it is promptly reversed, will cost Iraq’s treasury about $12,000,000 a year, which is more than one-quarter of the country’s entire national revenue. The loss of this amount would be felt with particular, severity this year since the national expenditure has sharply increased as a result of the war in Palestine and revenues dropped due to a serious drought and locust plague.
Should the Haifa refinery continue to operate successfully without Iraqi oil, the main losers would be Iraq and the other Arab states which in the past drew their supplies of refined oil products from Haifa. The Tripoli refinery in the Leban on is unable to take its place because Tripoli’s capacity is only 250,000 tons a year.