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British Government Expected to Ask U.S. to Help Curtail Israeli Oil Drilling in Sinai

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British Government circles are concerned over oil exploration in the Israel-occupied Sinai Peninsula and are expected to ask Washington to help curtail such operations as long as the Sinai is under Israeli control.

An American company, known as “Midbar” (Desert) is involved. It maintains an office in London where it is registered as a limited company, but it is doubtful that the British Foreign office could intervene effectively here. Foreign Office circles stressed that their concern was “purely political” and in no way related to commercial oil operations. They said the Egyptians were “aggrieved” by the oil explorations in their territory under Israeli aegis and it was felt there that if continued, it would further complicate the Middle East situation and make prospects for a settlement even more remote.

(The State Department disclaimed knowledge last week of a report that the U.S. had pressed Israel to abandon the Midbar drilling project. The Israeli Embassy also denied the report. But a news service said that “secret message were exchanged and American officials are under orders not to talk about the matter.”)

A California oil company will start drilling for offshore oil off the Israel coast next month. The Equitex Petroleum Corp.is sending its prospecting ship, Typhoon to Israel. It recently acquired 10 percent of the stock of Petroleum Services Ltd., a company partly owned by the Israel Government. Equitex has requested registration as an oil prospecting company.

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