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Britain Reaffirms Refusal to Sell North Sea Oil to Israel

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Britain has reaffirmed its refusal to sell North Sea oil to Israel following a meeting between Yitzhak Modai, Israel’s Energy Minister, and Peter Walker, his British counterpart.

However, the meeting was the first of its kind for a number of years at which the Israelis made no formal request for British oil. This is partly because of the past inflexibility of the British authorities on this issue and also because of a recent decision by Norway to sell Israel half a million tons of light crude over the next six months, thus lessening Israel’s interest in a deal with Britain.

Nevertheless, the British Energy Ministry said that the issue had cropped up during the 30-minute meeting between Modai and Walker. Officials said Britain adhered to its established policy of supplying oil only to members of the European Economic Community, to fellow members of the International Energy Agency and to countries with which it has an established pattern of supply. This includes Finland but excludes Israel.

Modai said before leaving that despite his failure to make a formal request for British oil, Israel remained interested in North Sea crude oil because of the changing pattern of her oil requirements as she converts her electricity power stations from oil to coal.

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