TEL AVIV (Sep. 1)
The operation of Israel’s new 264-mile, 16-inch oil pipeline was formally handed over yesterday to a group of international financiers headed by Baron Edmond de Rothschild of Paris.
The transfer was made in a contract-signing ceremony at which Finance Minister Levi Eshkol signed for Israel and Baron de Rothschild for his company, Tri-Continental Pipeline, Ltd. The contract gave the company a 49-year concession on the pipeline, which runs from Eilat at Israel’s southern tip on the Gulf of Akaba through Beersheba and Ashdod, to Haifa on the Mediterranean coast.
At a luncheon tendered by the Finance Minister after the signing, he hailed the investment by the Rothschild group. He said that, until recently, Rothschild’s name had been connected with philanthropy, while now it was linked with enterprises important to Israel’s economy. He urged Rothschild to include Jerusalem in his future plans for investments. Baron de Rothschild thanked all who had helped to build the line which will become “a lifeline for Israel’s economy.”
The 16-inch line, for the time being, will transport crude oil at the rate of 1,500,000 tons annually from Eilat to Haifa for domestic use. Two 46,400-ton tankers have been obtained from Japan to haul oil to Eilat. Israel hopes eventually to develop the trans-Israel line as an alternative route to the Suez Canal for transit of crude oil to Europe.