JERUSALEM (Apr. 7)
The Israel Cabinet today discussed the question of extending the Elath – Beersheba oil pipeline following the arrival yesterday of the first American oil tanker at the port of Elath through the Gulf of Akaba. The Cabinet also heard a report from Finance Minister Levi Eshkol on possible credits from France.
The Israeli press was jubilant today over the tanker’s crashing of the Egyptian blockade and emphasized its significance for Israel’s geopolitical and economic position. The newspapers hailed the United States Government’s honoring of its pledge to act to end the blockade of the Strait of Tiran and stressed the value of the new trans-Israel oil route as an alternate to the Suez Canal.
The 16, 000 ton ship, whose name is withheld and which made an unimpeded trip through the Akaba waterway began this morning pumping its cargo of oil into a hastily built storage tank on shore.A special hose with a floating inlet was laid between the shore, which the tanker cannot approach, and its mooring.
There is a possibility, it was learned here today that the history-making tanker may have brought enough oil to begin the lifting of restrictions on the use of motor and cooking fuel which have prevailed since the Sinai campaign.
Even as Israelis were rejoicing at the shattering of the Egyptian blockade of Elath by an American vessel, it was announced that Delek, the national Israel oil company, had chartered three or four American tankers of the same size to bring oil to Elath monthly. It is expected that the oil they bring, which will be pumped to Beersheba in a week or so when the Elath-Beersheba pipeline is completed, will meet at least half of Israel’s annual needs. It will also cut transportation costs by two-thirds and reduce the price of oil in Israel by 10 per cent.
Construction workers are busy ’round the clock completing the pipeline. Leaders of the Israel Bond Organization in the United States have been invited to attend the formal opening of the line during the first week of May. An official announcement revealed that 10, 000, 000 pounds of the 14, 000, 000 pound cost of the eight-inch line had been supplied by the proceeds of bond sales in the U.S. The line, which will have four pumping stations along its length, will only carry 1,500 tons daily until the supply is stepped up.
Meanwhile Avraham Weiner, chief engineer of the company that is building the eight-inch line, told newsmen that the 50-mile long extension of the line from Beersheba to the Mediterranean coast would be built in three to four months. It will be a 16-inch line.