JERUSALEM (Dec. 19)
American intervention was said here today to have been the cause for delay by the French in starting to build the projected 30-inch pipeline from the head of the Gulf of Akaba to the Mediterranean. Israeli circles charged that the American intervention came 48 hours before the scheduled departure from France of a large survey team which should have arrived here at the beginning of the month.
The pipeline was to have been financed by a pool of French investment companies jointly with a certain American oil company. The French Government had agreed to give guarantees to the investors against damages from force majored. It was the American company which decided at the last moment on the postponement, and consequently, the entire proposed structure of guarantees was reportedly suspended.
It is estimated here that the trans-Negev pipeline would save six cents per ton in oil transportation charges as compared to Suez Canal charges. The pipeline would have had an annual capacity of 25 million tons. In 1955, a total of 69 million tons of oil was shipped through the Suez Canal.
Israel would not have had access to this oil which would have been exclusively for Western Europe, but would have received a fixed transit royalty per ton. Thus, the smaller pipeline which Israel is now building independently, from Elath to Beersheba, is not an alternative to the French pipeline but is supplementary and is for Israel’s own requirements. Israel may build its own pipeline larger than the planned eight inches, possibly making it 12 inches.