JERUSALEM (Jan. 3)
Energy Minister Yitzhak Modai assured Israelis that the country’s oil supplies were not in danger as a result of the turmoil in Iran. He said, in an Israel Radio interview, that there was “no need and no wish yet.” to invoke the 1975 agreement by which the United States pledged to guarantee Israel’s oil supplies in case of an emergency.
Modai implied that Israel has increased its oil imports from other sources to make up for the curtailed production in Iran. The “big question” he said was how long it would be before Iranian oil exports return to normal. Iran reportedly supplied Israel with about 300,000 barrels a day. But as a result of the turmoil in Iran, shipments of oil to Israel, as to other countries, was halted Dec. 27. Israel never officially confirmed its oil purchases from Iran and the oil, in fact, was never sold directly to Israel but through a third party. Shipments to Israel were listed officially as going to Gibraltar.
Officials here said Israel consumes 7.5 million tons of crude oil a year a daily consumption of about 150,000 barrels. About 15 percent comes from internal sources and some 6.5 million tons is imported at a cost of $300 million a year. The American commitment to guarantee Israel’s oil needs was port of the 1975 Sinai interim agreement between Israel and Egypt.
U.S. TO HONOR OIL AGREEMENT
There was some question here as to whether the American pledge was limited to a five-year period from the date of the agreement. Officials explained that the pledge would be in force for a five-year period after Israel officially invoked it. Modai said there is no doubt or dispute over the American commitment. This is “very clear.” he said, but Israel is not about to implement it because its present supplies of oil are adequate.
(In Washington, Energy Secretary James Schlesinger declared today that the United States would honor its agreements to provide oil to Israel in case Israel’s oil supply situation will be affected as a result of the turmoil in Iran. There is the possibility of the export of north slope (Alaska) crude to Israel to alleviate the situation,” Schlesinger said. He said the U.S. will assist Israel in efforts to find an alternate source of crude oil, but in accord with bilateral agreements between the two nations the U.S. would supply Israel with oil.)
(In Teheran, Iran’s Prime Minister-designate, Dr. Shapur Bakhtiar, told reporters that his government would refuse to sell oil to Israel and South Africa. Addressing a press conference after being nominated as Prime Minister by both houses of Parliament, he said Iran would sell oil to countries requesting it. Asked if oil would be sold to Israel and South Africa, he replied: “Given the conflict that opposes us in a religious context to Israel, and in another context to South Africa. I think my government will not do that.”)
Oil expert Israel note that there is no global oil shortage. Most oil importing countries including Israel, laid in large supplies after the Arab oil embargo of 1973 to meet any future crisis.