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  • What’s in a Pipe?NATO’s Confrontation on the 1962 Large-Diameter Pipe Embargo

By the late 1950s, the Soviet Union had acquired a strong position as a world oil exporter, thanks to major discoveries in the Ural-Volga area. In order to transport their oil to strategic areas within the Union and to Europe, the Soviets devised a project to build a colossal pipeline system. This plan caused anxiety at NATO since Russian oil could be wielded as a weapon to weaken the West both militarily and economically. In order to complete the system, however, the Soviets needed large-diameter steel pipes and equipment, which they had to import from the West. Thus in 1961 the U.S. delegation at NATO proposed a comprehensive embargo of large-diameter pipes in order to delay the system’s construction. I argue that the definition of what oil pipes were as technological artifacts, as well as their final content, was ultimately shaped by the NATO debate on this U.S. proposition.


Between 1955 and 1965, Soviet oil production rose spectacularly from 71 to 243 million metric tons (Mt). This bonanza was the result of a significant prospecting effort, which bore its finest fruit in the Ural-Volga region, where a number of large oilfields were discovered. Soon the crucial issue for the Soviet oil industry became the marketing of this newly found oil. It ultimately decided to export oil to Western Europe at prices significantly [End Page 67] lower than prevailing prices on the international oil market.1 Whether such low prices were part of an explicit political strategy aimed at making Western Europe dependent on the USSR for its energy, or simply an economic consequence of the quantities of oil found and of the Soviets’ urgent need of Western technologies in exchange, has been debated ever since the phenomenon appeared.2 In hindsight, energy analysts like Robert Ebel see the economic rationale as most likely.3 However, examining the unfolding events from a historical viewpoint reveals a knot that is harder to unravel.

In cases such as the one presented in this article, it is not easy to distinguish between the political, economic, and military motives underlying a country’s policy. Often, each element is found in the same discourse, and the interpretive weight assigned to them by different historical actors varies according to each country’s contingent political agendas. While one may want to eliminate the roots of the problem by lumping economic and military motives under the rubric of “national security,” it is important to distinguish among the diverse inflections of the phrase, because the prevalence of either narrative not only defines the competent institutional loci where matters are to be debated, but also gives an indication of which argumentative framework may be more opportune to employ in those loci.4 In contrast, historian Timothy Mitchell invites us to read national security issues as an extension of power struggle in oil-dominated regimes.5 In this article, I will demonstrate that the constant, economically oriented consultations between governments and their respective national oil companies took place in parallel to the military-oriented debate at NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), and helped to shape it.

While the full rationale of the Soviet oil export strategy may not be easy to grasp, the means chosen by the Soviet administration to bring the country’s oil to Europe was straightforward: an extensive pipeline system would connect production sites to prospective markets on the western edge of the Iron Curtain, and possibly to Western Europe itself (fig. 1). The pipeline system, whose western-most terminals were planned to be in eastern Germany and Czechoslovakia, was also expected to reach the shores of the Caspian Sea, and as far as China on its eastern path. More branches were planned to the Baltic ports of Klaipėda and Ventspils, and to the Far East [End Page 68]

Fig 1. USSR crude and product pipelines in late 1960. (Source: Fonds Total-CFP, b. 92.26/31, excerpt from Journal des Carburants, 20 November 1960, in AHDGT.)
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Fig 1.

USSR crude and product pipelines in late 1960. (Source: Fonds Total-CFP, b. 92.26/31, excerpt from Journal des Carburants, 20 November 1960, in AHDGT.)

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port of Nakhodka.6 This project would require particular capabilities for producing the materials for building the pipeline system, including a number of advanced technological artifacts such as turbines and compressors, and most particularly large-diameter steel pipes (with a diameter larger than 40 inches). In the early 1960s, the Soviets did not have either adequate know-how or the industrial infrastructure to produce such pipes in requisite quantities. It was the Soviet effort to acquire these technologies, and the different estimates of Soviet productive capabilities that gave rise to the debate at the core of this paper.

Historians of technology have long recognized the importance that social, political, and economic factors play in shaping what a technological artifact is. In particular, Gabrielle Hecht has proposed the concept of “technopolitics” to indicate “the strategic practice of designing or using technology to constitute, embody, or enact political goals.” This article draws on her analysis by showing the crucial role that oil pipes played in affecting international relations during the cold war. Further, it highlights how the cold war shaped the definition of what “strategic” oil pipes were.7

In particular, the actual understanding of the pipes’ sizes and functions was negotiated in the measures that NATO implemented to face the Soviet “oil flooding” threat. The year-and-a-half debate that followed the proposal by the U.S. delegation at NATO of an embargo on large-diameter pipes and pipeline equipment was indicative of the manifold status of pipes as technological items, a point reminiscent of Hecht’s argument about uranium. Like “nuclearity” for uranium, “pipe-ness”—that is, the strategic nature of pipes—was not at all obvious. It depended on the political context in which these items were immersed.8 Furthermore, the interpretation of a technological artifact in a transnational context is wholly reliant on views that reflect national economic and political interests. In the transnational arena, these views are subject to debate and, at times, to hybridization.9

By focusing on oil, this article extends the existing studies on cold war technologies to an industrial sector that has received constant attention from economic studies, but very little by the domain of the history of technology. [End Page 70] Even when the technoscience of oil industry has been considered, the focus has mainly been on exploration technologies, such as those involved in geophysical prospecting, whereas more industry-oriented processes, such as those involved, for example, in metallurgy, have been neglected.10

The present study also refines our understanding of the role of pipelines in political history, which has been emphasized by Mitchell, and more recently by geographer Andrew Barry. Mitchell and Barry have highlighted the importance of pipelines as sites of intense political struggle, and the control over points of passage such as railway connections and pipelines for flows of materials to be effective. As will become clear, the availability of large-diameter pipes came to constitute an example of such points of passage. It can also be interpreted, in Thomas Hughes’s terminology, as a “reverse salient,” namely a component of a technological system that, because of its insufficient development, compromises the effective operation of the system as a whole.11

Finally, my paper follows the work by historian Per Högselius on Euro-Soviet gas trade, which focused on the period starting in the late 1960s, by extending the narrative back in time to the early 1960s, when oil, not gas, was the main actor of energy trade relations between the USSR and Western Europe. It also builds on Angela Stent’s seminal monograph on West German–Soviet relations, which extensively covered the embargo from the West German point of view, by employing a more transnational framework.12

The article starts by examining the global consequences of the Soviet oil strategy, including national political reactions to it. It then explores the embargo debate at NATO to show the developing polarization between a British pro-trade position and an American pro-security (and contextually contra-trade) stance. In general, NATO members fought their battle through industrial estimates, the mobilization of their military and intelligence agents as well as oil companies, and the possibility of distinguishing between different kinds of pipes according to their possible contents (oil or gas). During and because of this debate, the nature of the “pipe” artifact changed. Its final status as technological artifact ultimately resulted from this negotiation. The final section analyzes the resolution of the debate and its repercussions on European trade. [End Page 71]

The “Red Oil Flood”

One of the first signs of American anxiety vis-à-vis the increase in Soviet oil production came from Allen Dulles, then director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), who in 1958 warned the U.S. cabinet, led by President Dwight Eisenhower, that “[t]he free world face[d] a quite dangerous situation in the Soviet capacity to dislocate established markets.”13 Indeed, over the course of ten years, the share of total Soviet production intended for export rose from 5.2 percent to 26.4 percent, and oil exported to non-Communist countries increased from 3.8 Mt in 1955 to a stunning 35.5 Mt in 1965. Prices offered by the USSR were so low compared to the international market price that most U.S. sources did not hesitate to talk about market dumping. As an example, in 1957 a barrel of Soviet oil sold on the international market for $2.06, compared to $2.79 for Middle Eastern oil and $2.92 for Venezuelan oil. In the coming years, Soviet prices offered to West European countries decreased even further to as little as $1 a barrel in the case of an Italian-Russian agreement signed in 1960.14

In 1958, however, Soviet oil transportation was still handicapped by an overloaded railway system, which carried around 60 percent of the extracted oil, as compared to 5 percent in the United States. The Soviets aimed to meet 35 percent of oil transport requirements via a new pipeline system, whose European branch would be named Druzhba (Russian for “friendship”), and which would connect the new oil fields to potential commercial outlets. Aside from relieving the strain on their railway network, the system would also allow the Soviets to increase exports and reduce the demand for tankers. In addition, the pipeline could easily be connected to seaport terminals where the Soviet Navy’s vessels were moored.15

As a consequence, the Soviet flow of oil, at least at a first glance, promised to upset the Western bloc militarily and economically. More worrying for the United States, by the late 1950s individual countries that were members of Western-bloc international organizations, such as the European Economic Community (EEC) and NATO (notably Italy and West Germany), were already in the process of negotiating agreements to import Soviet hydrocarbons, and had also agreed to sell the pipes and equipment the Soviets needed. The U.S. administration first, and NATO afterward, swiftly moved to block these deals. The bone of contention—oil-for-technology barter deals, and large-diameter pipes in particular—did not just feature as an object of political controversy; their very nature was molded in the clash between national representatives. [End Page 72]

Soviet oil exports were part of a larger scheme, in which barter agreements were employed as powerful economic and diplomatic weapons, enabling beneficiary countries to find outlets for their production. When trading with Egypt, the Russians bartered oil for cotton; with Cuba, they swapped oil for sugar. Technoscentific expertise was also used as a lever to convince developing countries to collaborate. This was a cornerstone of Soviet oil policy, and was successfully employed in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Pakistan, and Egypt. The USSR provided crews of experts to assist locals with the construction of pipelines and tankers, geological studies, and training for executives of national oil industries. Indeed, such training was not limited to technical aspects: it also included political and social engineering.16

Due to possible military consequences, Soviet plans for Druzhba soon generated frantic debate at NATO. From 1960, the analysis of the pipeline question came under the scrutiny of NATO’s Committee of Economic Advisers (ECONAD), operating under the authority of the North Atlantic Council (NAC). Founded in 1957, ECONAD was designated as a venue for the study of oil-related issues, including assessments of Russian oil production, exports, and reserves, NATO countries’ oil imports from Communist countries, and issues regarding pipelines. ECONAD was particularly concerned with those issues that had political or defense implications, or that affected the economic health of the Atlantic community. Envisioned as a standing committee, it was meant to complete the functions conducted by the Committee on Soviet Economic Policy (however, the functions of the two committees sometimes overlapped).17 In order to understand the positions successively taken by NATO country members at ECONAD in 1960–62, it is first essential to examine country members’ stances with respect to the Soviet oil offensive and pipeline projects.

National Reactions to the Soviet Oil Offensive

Reactions to the Soviet oil offensive varied from country to country. While, quite expectedly, the American government firmly refused to allow Soviet imports into the United States, European positions were more varied, depending on each country’s historical record in trading with the USSR, as well as on the situation regarding their industrial needs. In terms of purchase of Soviet exports, the top three West European countries in 1957 (the United Kingdom, West Germany, and France) imported merchandise [End Page 73] worth 756, 286, and 268 million rubles respectively. Exports to Italy amounted to 117 million. However, Italy was the only country among these whose balance of trade was negative.18

In the United Kingdom in the late 1950s Harold Macmillan’s government was divided on the issue of embargoing Soviet oil imports. It eventually implemented an embargo in 1959, but serious disagreements remained between government departments, notably between the Board of Trade (against) and the Ministry of Power (in favor), which would reemerge in coming years. In France Victor de Metz, president of the flagship of French oil, Compagnie française des pétroles, feared that Soviet trade could extend to the entire EEC and threaten the market for recently found oil from French territories in Africa. He hoped that an alliance between oil majors and Arab producers could counteract the “red oil flood.”19 However, the heavy dependence of a number of Arab countries on Soviet economic and technical expertise discouraged them from taking retaliatory measures.20 Italy and West Germany were deeply involved in trading with the USSR, and commercial exchanges existed between Soviet firms and many large Italian industrial concerns such as the car manufacturer FIAT. In particular, in 1960 Italian public oil company Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (ENI), led by Enrico Mattei, signed a massive oil-for-technology supply contract with Soviet state-run Soyuznefteexport (SNE), which caused a scandal in the Western industrial and political world. The Soviets would provide ENI with 12 Mt of crude and fuel oil over four years, in exchange for synthetic rubber, steel pipes, and pipeline equipment.21

Germany’s steel producers from the Ruhr region were also on good terms with a number of Soviet firms. Two months before the Italian deal, [End Page 74] West Germany signed an important barter contract with the Soviets. West German trade with the USSR rose from $196.5 million in 1959 to $401.5 million in 1962. Among German exports to the USSR were plants for chemical and extractive industries, iron and steel products, ships, and large-diameter pipes. Among its imports were crude oil and oil products.22 However, unlike France and Germany, which could count on large domestic resources of coal, Italy almost totally depended on oil (and to a lesser extent, on indigenous gas). Therefore, Italy’s reliance on Soviet imports was seen as a greater threat to Western security than the German trade agreements.

By early 1960 Europe’s trade with the Soviets came under scrutiny in American political circles. In the U.S. press, as well as in the National Security Council’s and State Department’s reports, dangers deriving from dependency on Soviet oil were repeatedly highlighted. The Russians, many commentators claimed, may decide to abruptly interrupt their deliveries following unfavorable political decisions by Western bloc governments.23 Soviet dependency on Western technology, however, was largely neglected in those articles and reports. Yet discontinuing exports would have deprived the Eastern giant of part of its industrial power. This reason, more than any other, made an interruption of supplies unlikely: energy dependence on the European side was thus balanced by technical dependence on the Soviet side. In addition, Stent notes, the urgency of American rhetoric was not commensurate to the real supply situation. Western Europe was not at the time heavily dependent on Soviet oil. Political factors linked to the cold war may have distorted perceptions of the economic significance of Soviet oil exports, and may have been compounded by Western oil companies’ concerns about a likely loss of market share.24

American anxieties were clearly expressed in two documents produced by the U.S. Senate in 1961 and 1962 respectively: Soviet Oil in the Cold War and Problems Raised by the Soviet Oil Offensive. In those studies, Halford Hoskins, a senior specialist in international relations, and Leon Herman, an analyst in Soviet economics, warned that Soviet exports to foreign countries constituted “a political hand that has worn the economic glove.”25 They maintained that if the Italian attitude spread throughout Western Europe, more countries would divert part of their oil imports [End Page 75] from the majors to the USSR, thus causing fewer revenues to American, British, Dutch, and French international companies.26 The American position mirrored the stance held by the French administration. Tellingly at the European Parliament, French Gaullist deputy Christian de la Malène prompted the European Commission (the executive of the EEC) to set up periodic exchanges of data on imports of oil products from all origins. In the statistics provided by the commission for the first five months of 1960, the position of Italy as the largest Soviet oil importer was striking; Italy’s imports were three times larger than West Germany’s and four times larger than those of France.27

ENI’s plans to build a pipeline for the Soviets between the USSR and East Germany, and a second one to connect Italy’s Adriatic seaport of Trieste to Vienna, did nothing to appease Western governments. The first threat was defused through international diplomatic pressure. The French and U.S. governments were promptly informed by their national secret services of the news of the Italian-Soviet-East German project, which threatened to open the possibility of a future connection with West Germany.28 The State Department suggested the Italian Embassy in Paris apply pressure to the Italian government, eventually scuttling the pipeline agreement.29

The second project might have linked the Trieste-Vienna pipeline to Bratislava, where the Soviets planned to establish one of Druzhba’s terminals.30 From a geographical viewpoint, argued the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the Soviet project was more enticing than a continued [End Page 76] commitment to the majors’ oil from the Middle East, which was transported through the Mediterranean. The proximity of Sweden and the Netherlands to the Baltic port of Klaipėda, where another terminal of the Soviet European pipeline was to be built, would make the Soviet pipeline a constant temptation for countries belonging to the Western bloc, thanks to the savings its use would allow. Moreover, from the Baltic port oil could easily be carried to West Germany by railway. On top of that, by linking the Soviet pipeline to ENI’s planned pipeline, Soviet oil could reach the Mediterranean through a new outlet, and thence be exported by tanker to areas already supplied by Anglo-American majors in southern Europe, thus increasing the quantities that were already being delivered from the Soviet Union via the Black Sea.31 It was against this background that ECONAD started its meetings on Soviet oil in the summer of 1960.

“Measures Need to Be Taken”: ECONAD’s Early Study and the Embargo Proposal

In July 1960, ECONAD met to examine the impact of Soviet oil on world markets. In the same month, it decided that NATO members should prepare statistics on their trade with the Soviet bloc, and proposed the preparation of a common policy for Western oil-supplying countries in the face of the Soviet oil threat. An ad hoc Study Group on Soviet Oil Policy was then established. NATO’s need of such an assessment became even more urgent following the creation in September of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which generated fears the USSR might conclude an agreement with Arab producers to the ultimate detriment of Western oil majors.32

ECONAD had charted Soviet efforts to increase oil exports since the beginning of 1960, noticing that these had been highly successful, especially outside Europe, and that attempts to stop them had failed. At the same time the Russian tanker fleet’s capacity had been growing at an alarming speed, further boosting Soviet exporting capacity.33 From September, [End Page 77] the Study Group debated a common policy to stem these dangers. The national delegations abided by the recommendations issued by their national oil companies. That national enterprises collaborated with their NATO delegations within the Study Group was to be expected, and adds to the strength of the argument about a symbiosis between military and economic motivations in confronting the Soviet oil export strategy. But these contacts also reveal the network of acquaintances between the oil industry and top-rank personalities in national administrations. U.S. majors such as Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, Standard Oil Company of New York, and the Texas Company lobbied the State Department. British Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell also had frequent exchanges with the British Foreign Office, and as historian Niklas Jensen-Eriksen has emphasized, when the Joint Intelligence Bureau of the Ministry of Defence was asked to draft a memorandum on Soviet oil exports in 1958, it was Shell that the Ministry of Power consulted when collecting materials for it.34 The Compagnie française des pétroles worked closely with the French Foreign Ministry, to the point of plainly suggesting which tactics to pursue, and ENI had frequent contacts with the Study Group’s Italian delegation.35

The NATO Study Group, under the chairmanship of Keith Stock, undersecretary of the Petroleum Division at the British Ministry of Power, met for the first time two months after the signing of the 1960 ENI-SNE agreement. Group members were asked to provide data on current and planned Soviet oil imports to their countries and of their exports to the USSR; on the conditions under which such trade took place; and on the destination of imported oil.36 A draft report by the Study Group was ready by May 1961. It stated that due to the substantial trade in Soviet bloc–originated oil products by both NATO and non-NATO countries, restrictive measures needed to be taken and implemented by all members.37 NATO’s [End Page 78] ambition to reform East-West oil trading was now taking oil geopolitics to a new level, making the Atlantic Alliance the transnational forum for conflicts that had hitherto unfolded through national representations.

Based on the results of this group, U.S. NATO delegate Alfred Reifman suggested an embargo on Western-bloc large-diameter pipes and pipeline equipment, due to the strategic and military advantages the USSR would achieve from its exports. The embargo, comments Stent, “more than any other single incident, highlighted the U.S.’s primary role both in the establishment of the East-West trade agenda and in the politicization of specific economic issues.”38 It also marked a turning point in the definitional pathway that would transform pipes from freely tradable to embargoed merchandise.

The American Argument: Druzhba as a Military Threat

Following the embargo proposal, ECONAD requested that another study be made before making a definitive decision. The new study group was formed in Washington, and when its final report reached ECONAD in September, it closely reflected the American viewpoint. The report argued that Druzhba had “obvious military significance.”39 As a consequence, at a subsequent ECONAD meeting, U.S. major general Francis Piggott, assistant chief of staff (Intelligence) at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), urged that the construction of the pipeline be delayed, in order to prevent supplying both the Soviet Navy and Soviet divisions in Eastern Europe. Unlike the Soviet railway, which ran north to south, pipelines would run east to west, and the flow of oil in that direction would make supplying the Soviet military machine in Eastern Europe easier.40

According to the report, moreover, the Soviets were not producing large-diameter pipes over 40 inches of diameter, and there seemed to be no evidence at that time that they were progressing rapidly enough to build large-capacity tube mills or steel-rolling mills capable of turning out steel plate wide enough to enable single-weld 40-inch pipe to be manufactured. Considerations of the Soviet ability to access certain technologies led the study group to conclude that, although the Soviets claimed to be able to [End Page 79] produce pipe by welding two preformed halves, there was no indication that they were actually doing so. Large-diameter pipes were critical to the Soviet oil export strategy, as they would make it possible to significantly improve the flow rate at which oil could be delivered to Europe. Soviet industries were also reported to be unable to build gas turbines, electric motors, and other equipment required for 40-inch lines. As for auxiliary equipment, they were in need of Western technology, as corrosion was a major problem in their pipes and equipment due to the high sulfur content of their oil. They lacked pumps, compressors, turbines, valves, pipe fittings, large electrical engines, gauges, and telemetering and short-wave control equipment. An embargo, the report’s compilers concluded, would effectively delay the completion of Druzhba.41

By the time the report was presented at ECONAD, the significance of pipelines for the Soviet marine military apparatus was clearer than ever to NATO, and added to concerns about Russian technological progress in war vessels. Such concerns had eventually led NATO to establish an ad hoc group to produce oceanographic knowledge for anti-submarine warfare needs in late 1958. NATO military authorities were especially worried about the Soviet warships docked along the Baltic and Pacific coasts. The Soviet railway and naval units, relieved of transporting oil, could then be used to carry logistically critical goods, such as ammunition and foodstuffs.42

It was not the first time the United States had proposed blockades in order to hinder Soviet industrial projects. In 1946, a penicillin plant program launched by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration to build up the capacity of the pharmaceutical industry in eastern and southern Europe was significantly delayed by an American embargo on extractor technologies. The State Department refused to grant exporting licenses for the necessary equipment to pass the Iron Curtain.43 Other products, including radioisotopes and computer equipment, were also embargoed to stifle Soviet technological progress. In October 1960, after Cuban prime minister Fidel Castro Ruz nationalized the properties of U.S. citizens and companies, an embargo was famously enacted against the Caribbean island.44 It is therefore not surprising that the U.S. delegation hoped to try another embargo, this time on Western oil technologies. By enacting it, Western countries would create a bottleneck for the Soviet oil flow, and cause a technological “reverse salient” in Soviet trading and military power.45 [End Page 80]

In hindsight, the 1962 embargo on oil pipes and pipeline technology marked a foundational decision that became a template for future USSRU.S. conflicts, as shown by the embargo on pipeline technologies implemented in the early 1980s by Ronald Reagan’s government, which strained U.S. relations with the United Kingdom and the EEC.46 In the summer of 1961, U.S. delegates at NATO argued that European countries’ Soviet trade was allegedly imperiling the security of the entire Western bloc. It is not easy to assess to what extent American responses reflected genuine security concerns or rather were the disguised commercial interests of U.S. oil majors.47 During the NATO debate, the latter interests were never named, but their presence lingered in the discussions and are revealed by the constant contact between the American representatives and officers from U.S. oil companies. It would probably not be too far from the truth to argue that these two preoccupations dovetailed nicely. Indeed, in 1963 the World Petroleum review admitted that the first demand to use NATO and U.S. diplomatic channels to restrict trade in oil between the West and the USSR had been made in November 1960 at an annual meeting of the American Petroleum Institute, by Gulf Oil’s president Ernest Brockett and by Jersey Standard’s president Monroe Rathbone. Jersey Standard recommended exactly what Reifman’s proposal was designed to achieve: a NATO agreement on a list of strategic materials, the sale of which would be prohibited, including those allowing the Soviets to complete their pipeline system and refineries in Eastern Europe.48

Whatever the rationale of the American strategy at NATO, the Washington group’s report asserted that in order to complete their pipeline system, the Soviets would need significant foreign assistance. The USSR had already been importing large-diameter pipes from abroad for several years. NATO members had not prevented these kinds of exports since the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (CoCom)—an informal non-treaty organization established soon after World War II by the powers allied with the United States and NATO to limit the flow of technology to the Eastern bloc—had reduced restrictions on pipe and oil equipment exports to the Soviet bloc in 1958. In the 1958 review of international strategic controls, however, almost all items relative to the oil industry had been deleted or downgraded to Watch List status, which only required reporting to the Atlantic Alliance’s authorities any deliveries to the Eastern bloc. Since Soviet demand for large-diameter pipes had been limited, these items had been deleted from the list.49

As a consequence of this regulatory relaxation, by the spring of 1961 the Soviets had placed, or were negotiating, new orders with West Germany, [End Page 81] Italy, Sweden, and Japan.50 Soviet companies were also trying to acquire the new industrial technology required to produce the pipes. By the end of 1960, they had already been in contact with German firms to negotiate the use of a new spiral welding process, a German innovation which enabled the construction of pipes from long strips of steel plate fitted together to form helical seams, thus minimizing leaks in the pipeline.51

It was the ease with which the Soviets could acquire foreign technology that drove the United States to propose the embargo, in a clear manifestation of “pipe technopolitics.” The request, however, triggered a firm British reaction at the following ECONAD meetings.

The British Counterargument: The Embargo as an Economic Threat

Considering that the United Kingdom topped the list of Soviet trade partners in Europe, it may not come as a surprise that the British would object to American arguments that framed Druzbha as a military threat. However, considering the oil sector alone, British firms (Shell and British Petroleum) would achieve significant benefits from an embargo. Therefore, the position taken by the United Kingdom with respect to the embargo resulted from a domestic clash of interests. As mentioned, the British government had implemented an embargo on Soviet oil and oil products in 1959. It is possible that the inter-ministerial discrepancies that had emerged at the time of that embargo were now returning to the surface. In 1959, the opinion of the Ministry of Power had prevailed over that of the Board of Trade, which favored a continuation of trade with the Soviets.

This time, however, the opinion of the Board of Trade was supported by the Treasury, whose joint permanent secretary Frank Lee had earlier been the permanent secretary of the Board of Trade. Lee was open to the possibility of British oil companies reaching an “accommodation” with the Soviets, meaning some sort of gentlemen’s agreement, but his proposal was firmly opposed by British majors. However, by early 1960 the Treasury already doubted oil would be of crucial significance to the country’s balance of payments when compared to the remaining trade sectors, and its opinion was the tilt of the scales. Many British manufacturing companies were trading with the Soviet Union, and the significance of these exchanges exceeded that of oil.52 So an embargo made little economic sense to the British Treasury. [End Page 82]

That was part of the argument that the British delegate at NATO sought to defend at ECONAD meetings. Not only, he asserted, would a ban pose difficulties for the exporting industries of member countries; it would also either be ineffective or postpone increases in the oil exports from the Eastern bloc until the Soviets arranged to produce the necessary equipment themselves. In fact, he argued, it would push the Russians to scale up their production installations. The British delegation replied to the American data with its own contradictory data.53 The predominantly military nature of the pipeline, asserted by the Americans, was denied by the British. The latter maintained that since the embargo would cover all large-diameter pipes and related equipment, it would have to include all possible materials and equipment useful in the construction and installation of pipelines. But these included items in general use such as valves and earthmoving equipment, which surely were not strategically sensitive technologies.54 An embargo would then heavily and unnecessarily hit a number of branches of European industry.

When in March 1962 French representatives proposed that NATO countries accept a moral obligation to discourage their nationals entering into new contracts for deliveries of large-diameter pipes to the Soviet bloc during embargo discussions, the British responded by making clear that the “special relationship” between the United Kingdom and the United States would not be allowed to put Britain’s Soviet trade in jeopardy.55 The UK delegate questioned ECONAD’s competence in debating the matter, and invoked the help of the economic adviser to the UK Joint Intelligence Bureau, Edward Radice. Radice stressed the British preference for a technical and economic analysis vis-à-vis strategic/military aspects. He maintained that, in general, implementing economic measures to stem industrial efforts had proved ineffective, because economic systems were much more flexible than was generally supposed.56

As for the 40-inch pipes, Radice estimated that Soviet requirements for [End Page 83] Druzhba were 400 kt, not 1.2 Mt, as the American estimates seemed to imply: in fact, the latter estimates referred to the overall Soviet requirements for oil and gas pipeline systems, not to the one system that was seen as threatening for the West, namely Druzhba. Radice maintained that, considering the USSR’s expected production—Soviet manufacturers had by then managed to acquire a fair command of the process of production of large-diameter pipes—plus the deliveries from Germany and Italy under existing contracts, the gap would eventually be small, and the Soviets could cover it if they faced an embargo. For example, they might try and step up production of 40-inch pipes, or use smaller diameters and double the lines of such pipe if necessary (although in the latter case the production of smaller pipes would have to be doubled, thus generating further industrial issues, a point Radice did not mention).57

The British argument rested on their understanding of the Soviet preference for a pipe design that favored flexible usage over economic advantage. The British had acquired information that the Soviets were planning to manufacture 40-inch oil and gas pipes with similar pressure requirements, unlike the usual European practice of designing oil pipes for higher pressure than gas pipes. The equal-pressure requirement would allow Soviet 40-inch-pipe production to be used indifferently for oil or gas. All manufacturers could then produce the same kind of pipes, and that would result in one large production of 40-inch pipes instead of two differentiated, smaller productions of oil and gas pipes. It was this flexibility, the British maintained, that would make the embargo ineffective.58

But was the Soviet economy as flexible as Radice maintained? Not for the U.S. delegation, which retorted that the Soviets were not going to interrupt their gas expansion program, since any interruption in that plan could lead to delays in output for military purposes.59 Thus, the Soviet large-diameter pipe gap would be significant, and so would the embargo. While the “special relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom was deteriorating over technical estimates, it concomitantly polarized the debate at NATO, where it soon appeared that the British government was not the only one alarmed by the embargo proposal.

A Technical Distinction Unheeded

Representatives of other countries involved in trade relationships with the Soviets in the area of oil and oil industry equipment were not at all convinced that an embargo was a desirable solution. In early 1962, in order to reassure NATO allies, the U.S. representative at ECONAD clarified that the proposal was not intended to prevent existing contracts from being [End Page 84] honored. The clarification was welcomed by the Italians and Germans, and earned Belgian, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and Turkish approval.60

As for the French government, it supported the embargo from the very beginning. Like most NATO countries, France had no interests in the Soviet pipe trade, and had much to gain in impeding cheap Soviet oil from ruining its plans to export French-controlled Algerian oil to the EEC. Indeed, as highlighted in December 1959 by the Financial Times, imports from the USSR would be a real blow to French aspirations for controlling Algerian oil.61 A similar “national” objection to Soviet oil came from the Netherlands, which was not eager for competition for Shell. Italian acquiescence to the embargo proposal was unexpected, especially in light of ENI-Soviet relations. A rationale for Italy’s go-ahead can be found in the fact that during the embargo discussion, the Italian government was already effectively torpedoing the NATO Study Group on Soviet Oil Policy by opposing any reduction of Soviet imports.62 Any further opposition to the pipe embargo would be most embarrassing to the Italian authorities, especially considering that the practical consequences of the embargo would be economically less problematic for Italy than a halt to oil imports. Opposition would also be pointless, since British hostility and German hesitation were currently preventing the embargo from being implemented, as I will show below. Finally, the favorable stance the Americans took to existing contracts between the Soviets and NATO countries seemed to reassure ENI that no major diplomatic incident would occur between them and the Soviets.

The German government dithered. Large sections of the German Parliament objected to the embargo, as did many of those in industrial circles, while the ruling Christian Democrat government adhered to the U.S. position. West German firms had been selling large-diameter pipes to the USSR since 1959, taking advantage of Washington’s implementation of a policy prohibiting U.S. firms from selling the USSR this kind of pipe. The amount of pipe sold by German companies had increased from 3.2 kt in 1958 to 255.4 kt in 1962. In addition, in October 1962, three large firms from the Ruhr region—Mannesmann, Hoesch, and Phoenix-Rheinrohr—signed a contract to supply the USSR with 163 kt of 40-inch steel pipe, in exchange for pig iron.63 [End Page 85]

German firms were therefore largely involved in steel pipe trade with the Soviets. However, because of its strict political allegiance with—and in fact, dependence on—U.S. policy, the German government found it politically impossible to oppose the embargo. However, the Germans could make technical objections: if the pipes involved in the German-Soviet trade were categorized as gas pipes, and thus not strategically relevant to the crux of the embargo, German firms could skirt the NATO resolution and honor their agreements with the Soviets. Thus the German delegation proposed that gas pipes be exempt from the embargo, and advanced an argument to make a distinction between oil and gas 40-inch pipes.64

At the time of the NATO debate, gas was not regarded as a strategic item, and only from the late 1960s would gas purchases gradually acquire a higher importance in East-West trade. In the early 1960s, gas trade was still relatively undeveloped in Western Europe, as were gas transmission infrastructures (though with significant exceptions in regions such as the Netherlands, northern Italy, and France). It is therefore not surprising that gas pipes were not seen as equivalent to oil pipes in strategic terms.65

How could the two kinds of 40-inch pipes be distinguished? As mentioned earlier, while the possibility of such a distinction in Soviet pipes was unlikely because of the equal-pressure specification adopted by local manufacturers, Western pipes could in principle be distinguished by pressure characteristics. Therefore these pressure characteristics formed the core of the debate. The American Petroleum Institute maintained that 40-inch pipes for gas pipelines (characterized by lower pressure than oil pipes) could be used for the transport of both oil and gas, and that therefore it would be possible to transport oil in those pipes. The Germans disagreed, and challenged the institute’s viewpoint. When trading with the Soviets, German pipe manufacturers had been required to supply them with an impact factor—the ratio of a dynamic force to its static weight—for temperatures of -40ºC and +20ºC. That seemed to indicate that this pipe was going to be used for gas pipelines, since such qualitative requirements, which were responsible for a substantial increase in the cost of pipes, were “pointless in the case of oil pipe since only at temperatures above 15ºC was oil sufficiently fluid for conveyance by pipeline.”66

The Germans supposed that the USSR would, as most countries did, consider its pipeline projects from the standpoint of economical operation, and that seemed to rule out the use of pipes specifically intended for gas for the conveyance of oil. However, the German experts added a final clause to their document, acquiescing to the American argument that in theory there was the possibility that the two types of pipe could to some extent be regarded [End Page 86] as interchangeable.67 This linguistically nuanced specification, underlining a possibility that looked in any case remote through a jargon characteristic of scientific papers, may also have incautiously opened the way to its own ultimate dismissal. As a matter of fact, in the meetings that followed the German statement, no further mention was made of it.

The Embargo Approval and Its Consequences

As no agreement could be reached at ECONAD due to the Anglo-American conflict, the embargo proposal finally reached the North Atlantic Council (NAC) in the spring of 1962.68 Eventually thirteen countries out of fifteen agreed to the council’s recommendations. But here too the British proved contrary.69 The work of a further study group was necessary before the conclusion was reached at ECONAD that the Soviets would indeed be short of 40-inch pipes, and that if such deficits were not going to be filled by further imports from the free world, the pipeline system might be delayed for a period varying from eight months to over two years. As for pipeline equipment, lack of sufficient information ruled out any final decisions.70

When the experts’ draft was eventually debated at ECONAD, its members agreed to submit it to the NAC with the recommendation that member countries, “under their own responsibility,” should “to the extent possible”: stop deliveries of large-diameter pipe to the Soviet bloc under existing contracts; and prevent new contracts for such deliveries. It was decided the council would monitor the situation.71 In the end, therefore, the provision covered existing contracts. In archival sources, I could not retrieve a rationale regarding the modification of this point, nor any mention of reactions from West Germany or Italy (although it is quite plausible that these were vocal). What we do know is that the disrespect of the existing contracts clause caused serious trouble for West Germany and Italy in terms of their trade relations with the Soviets. The embargo was finally approved by the council on 21 November 1962 in the form of a recommendation [End Page 87] (and thus, at least de jure, endowed with a less stringent value than an order), but its enforcement was going to be problematic.

In early 1963, alleged Polish attempts to place new large-diameter pipe orders in Italy caused the German government to react by requesting that member countries take the necessary steps to prevent the execution of Soviet bloc orders placed later then the date of the embargo’s enactment.72 The tensions generated by the embargo within the German government itself, and especially between the government and German industrialists, as described by Stent, were linked to the importance for the Ruhr’s steel industry of increasing production after a long period of stagnation.73 Tensions visibly materialized in March, when Konrad Adenauer’s government avoided a defeat on the embargo resolution by a handful of votes.74 Obviously Soviet firms involved in the German contracts, and more in general the Soviet government, were not happy about the cancellation of existing contracts: they saw the German about-face as an openly hostile act and an infringement of the principle of international law, and reserved the right to take retaliatory measures.75

The embargo, notes Stent, and its approval by the German government in particular, marked a diplomatic victory for the United States. In late 1962, the ongoing negotiations between France and West Germany with respect to a friendship agreement finally materialized in January 1963. This suggested to the U.S. administration that Germany favored aligning with France, and with the European policy proposed by French president Charles de Gaulle, who had just rejected the United Kingdom’s application to join the EEC. Thus the alignment of Germany to the United States over the embargo issue might have been seen as a way for the German government to appease the U.S. government in a time of political tension between the two countries.76

There were several attempts to break or sidestep the embargo. In Italy, one of the NATO reports mentioned 181 kt of 40-inch pipes as the amount that Italian firms were to deliver to the Soviets. Yet we know that the 1960 ENI-SNE agreement scheduled deliveries for 240 kt of 40-inch pipe. The missing 60 kt were at the core of an interesting episode, which paralleled the embargo discussion. The Italian iron and steel manufacturer selected to supply the Soviets with large-diameter pipes was Finsider, a public agency on good terms with ENI. With a view to complying with its Soviet orders, Finsider had started the construction of a plant in southern Italy. Materials for the construction of the Italian plant were being provided by the American [End Page 88] company U.S. Steel. When U.S. Steel managers realized the factory would supply the Soviets, they prohibited Finsider from using their equipment to produce pipes, and threatened to stop deliveries for the plant’s equipment and spare parts. Finsider president Ernesto Manuelli immediately discussed the matter with ENI’s executives, and lamented being “forced by Italian and American authorities” to cut its Soviet deliveries by 25 percent. Manuelli had suggested the Russians purchase the remaining quantity from the German firm Phoenix-Rheinrohr, which had worked with ENI in the past. The Soviets, however, refused to comply.77

At his meeting with ENI executives, Manuelli argued that he had already committed to the Americans not to export more than 180 kt of large-diameter pipes to the USSR, and called on ENI management to mediate between Finsider and the Soviet companies. Finding a solution was of paramount importance, since a breach of part of the ENI-SNE contract by one of ENI’s partners could jeopardize the whole deal. An irritated Enrico Mattei, the ENI president, therefore replied to Manuelli that it was not worth modifying the Finsider contract because of American pressure.78

Mattei was also disappointed that the Italian authorities seemed to support, or at least not to oppose, American pressures. Manuelli and the management of the Soviet enterprises that had commissioned the pipes, Sider-export and Promsyrioimport, eventually reached a compromise by early March. Finsider’s deliveries were reduced by 60 kt, and a clause was added to the new contract to the effect that the reduction would not affect other exchanges included in the 1960 agreement.79 Although there was no direct repercussion on the comprehensive agreement, the whole affair did cause Soviet first deputy foreign minister Vasili Kuznetsov to let ENI know he felt “deeply offended” by Finsider’s attitude.80

With regard to Britain, the oddity of its position vis-à-vis the embargo was highlighted by an episode in April 1963, when NATO secretary general Dirk Stikker was informed by the U.S. government that a British firm, South Durham Steel, was negotiating with the Soviets for large-diameter pipe purchases. Although the United Kingdom had not accepted the embargo, [End Page 89] the Americans warned them that this move might jeopardize the whole edifice. In response, U.S. diplomats contacted their British counterparts to settle the matter.81

The degree to which the embargo succeeded is not easy to conclusively determine. According to NATO documents, these and other similar attempts to break the embargo did not ultimately succeed. By 1963, France and Italy had refused a number of contracts; the West Germans had embargoed 203 kt of 40-inch pipes, despite orders having been placed before the council’s decision. Japan and Sweden also generally cooperated.82 Maintaining that the outcome of the embargo had been successful, the NAC noted the furious reaction of Soviet prime minister Nikita Khrushchev, in a television speech on 27 February 1963, during which he vehemently attacked the embargo. In addition the Soviets also complained to Germany, and the blockade was extensively covered in the Soviet media. Other sources contradict this analysis. Indeed, the embargo seems to have been successful only to a limited extent: the construction of the pipeline system was indeed delayed, but by only one year. Scheduled for completion in late 1963, the system was finished in late 1964. The measure adopted by NATO was not able to stop Soviet oil exports to Western Europe either, as these continued to increase in the early 1960s. By 1970, SNE had been exporting wherever it had found the opportunity.83

Energy expert and former CIA officer Robert Ebel contends that Sweden, which was not a NATO member, continued to deal with the Soviets, and that small amounts of pipes were also delivered to the USSR by Italy and Germany. According to Ebel, the number of 40-inch pipes imported by the USSR may have been enough to complete Druzhba by late 1963, but that did not happen because of the Soviet Union’s ongoing program of development of natural gas production, which directed the bulk of 40-inch pipes to that use. This factor, not the embargo, would be the reason why, Ebel maintains, Druzhba was eventually completed in 1964. In addition, in order to frustrate the embargo and manufacture more 40-inch pipes, a number of Soviet pipe mills were converted from small- to large-diameter pipes. All in all, therefore, the embargo seems to have not so much affected [End Page 90] the Soviet production of 40-inch pipes as that of smaller diameters, which the USSR had to decrease to make room for larger-diameter pipes.84

Four years after the enforcement of the embargo, ECONAD itself admitted that its main, inadvertent, result had been a stimulation of the growth of Soviet pipe production. While such production still left much to be desired as far as quality was concerned, the Soviet Union could now use its own manufacturing capacity to implement any project which would be important either from the strategic viewpoint or from economic policy. The embargo lasted until November 1966, when the French and West German governments requested its cancellation, arguing that its scope had been reached, and that the Soviet rolling mills had by then recovered their backlog.85

Were American and West European diplomats really acting in European security interests when trying to limit Soviet oil exports? Historian Geir Lundestad disagrees, and maintains the United States was more interested in perpetuating Europe’s dependence on American national companies. His claim, I believe, has a grain of truth in it, but does not explain the whole picture. On the one hand, strong economic interests were the elephant in the room at NATO discussions on trade restrictions with the Soviets: the plans and lobbying of oil companies, whether American or European, could not be evoked in the Atlantic Alliance’s discussions, but were obviously there, mostly cloaked in the concept of “national security.”86 On the other hand, however, U.S. military circles appeared genuinely concerned by the military implications of Soviet oil strategy, and such anxiety may have been increased by nebulous and partial information on Soviet industrial capabilities that leaked through the Iron Curtain.

While there is little doubt that the pipe embargo represented a successful American attempt to alter the East-West trade policies of its European allies, whether the intended goal of jeopardizing Soviet pipeline plans was effective to the extent the Americans desired is highly dubious. But the pipeline issue may have been only a part of a larger strategy: as noted by Stent, the U.S. government was aware that most of its European allies were against an embargo measure, and its insistence in having it passed at NATO may have been a matter of principle, stated in order to affirm U.S. predominance in the Atlantic Alliance in East-West trade.87 [End Page 91]


Oil pipe technology was the means by which national oil interests materialized in the NATO debate. The winner of the debate would ultimately determine the Western bloc’s strategy vis-à-vis Soviet oil trade. The choices to be made about allowing or restricting the sale of certain kinds of pipes were neither purely technical nor purely political; they were instead technopolitical, in the sense that the technology and geopolitics of pipes became indistinguishable in the course of the eighteen-month debate on the Druzhba matter.

Exposing the assemblage of national narratives, and the ways these were strengthened, weakened, and modified throughout the development of the pipe debate, clarifies the fragmentary and ambiguous nature of the Western alliance. And it shows that, while U.S. political influence certainly gave the Americans a hardly disputable hegemonic role within NATO, the U.S. delegates had to come to terms with the exigencies of lesser partners in order to obtain a quasi-unanimous acceptance of the embargo. This tweaking operation took a long time, as countries with large trading stakes with the Soviets tried to delay a final decision as long as possible in order to minimize the consequences of the embargo. Also, the final formulation of the embargo proved to be significantly watered down with respect to the initial proposal from the United States; lesser NATO members played a crucial role in this outcome. As Lino Camprubí has recently noted, “[c]om-petition between the two superpowers accounts for only part of the story”: the history of the pipe embargo shows the importance of third powers, and stresses the processes of co-constructed hegemony within one of the cold war’s most influential transnational organizations.88

Interestingly, while the debate occurred in a geopolitical and economic context that was quite different from the present day, there are nevertheless marked similarities with the current global hydrocarbon scene. Many of the arguments advanced at the time continue to be deployed: Europe’s energy vulnerability and need of diversification of energy sources; its dependence on foreign hydrocarbon sources (with the cold war Soviet oil threat being replaced by actual Russian gas dependency); but also the subjugation of national governments’ foreign affairs policies to energy company strategies.89 Understanding these long-term recurring themes in global oil dynamics will help counteract narratives of presentist exceptionalism, and interpret present-day oil policies in strong continuity with those of the recent past. [End Page 92]

In the embargo debate, issues of metallurgy, as well as estimations of industrial technical capabilities, became the cornerstone criteria on which to build powerful narratives, and they were wielded as scientific weapons on which to ground attack and defense strategies. The issue of pipe exports to the USSR did not just come to constitute a political hand that had worn the technological glove, as Halford Hoskins and Leon Herman claimed.90 At NATO no glove needed to be worn, because pipe technology was not just a cover for oil politics. It was its essence.

Roberto Cantoni

Roberto Cantoni is currently a postdoctoral fellow at CERI (Centre de relations internationales), Sciences Po, Paris, France, and the author of Oil Exploration, Diplomacy, and Security in the Early Cold War (Routledge, in press). He won SHOT’s 2014 Levinson Prize with an earlier version of this paper. Simone Turchetti, Matthew Adamson, Suzanne Moon, and two anonymous reviewers read the complete manuscript at different stages and offered valuable insights that allowed it to move forward. The European Research Council project The Earth Under Surveillance (TEUS), grant 241009, made this research possible financially and intellectually.


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6. AC/127-WP/56 (Revised), confidential, “ECONAD, Sino-Soviet Bloc Oil on World Markets, Note by the Economic Service,” 11 July 1960, p. 2, in NATOA.

8. Gabrielle Hecht, “The Power of Nuclear Things”; Gabrielle Hecht, Being Nuclear. In The Radiance of France, 15, Hecht defines technopolitics as the “strategic practice of designing or using technology to constitute, embody, or enact political goals.”

14. Ebel, Communist Trade in Oil and Gas, 40, 44, 61 (Ebel’s data are sourced from various annual statistical trade handbooks issues by the Ministry of Trade of the USSR); Halford L. Hoskins, and Leon M. Herman, Soviet Oil in the Cold War, 5.

15. AC/127-D/68, confidential, “ECONAD, Report by the Ad Hoc Study Group on Soviet Oil Policy to Econad,” 23 May 1961, pp. 8–12, in NATOA.

16. Niklas Jensen-Eriksen, “The Cold War in Energy Markets,” 201. See also: Fonds Total-CFP, b. 90.4/102, Revue de presse, n. 30, Chronologie des accords politiques entre l’URSS et les pays arabes, December 1958; and Leon M. Herman, “The Soviet Oil Offensive,” The Reporter, 21 June 1962, p. 27, both in AHDGT.

17. AC/127-D/1, Confidential, “Committe of Economic Advisers (ECONAD), Date of the first meeting and programme of work—Note by the Chairman,” 22 March 1957, p. 2, in NATOA.

18. The equivalence in 1957 was 1 ruble = 4 dollars (, so the figures reported correspond to $3.02 billion for the United Kingdom, $1.14 billion for West Germany, $1.07 billion for France, and $468 million for Italy. Bruna Bagnato, Prove di Ostpolitik, 97.

19. Jensen-Eriksen, “The Cold War in Energy Markets,” 204. The embargo notwithstanding, Italian-labeled oil products made from Soviet oil were sold by ENI’s British affiliate in the United Kingdom in the early 1960s: Spencer, “The Role of Oil in Soviet Foreign Economic Policy,” 100–01; Emmaneul Catta, Victor de Metz, 289.

20. On Soviet aid to Arab countries, see: AC/89-WP/67, confidential (later unclassified), “Sub-Committee on Soviet Economic Policy—the Economic Offensive of the Sino-Soviet Bloc, Note by the Chairman,” 6 July 1960, in NATOA; AC/89-WP/76 (Revised 1), confidential (later unclassified), “Sub-Committee on Soviet Economic Policy—the Economic Offensive of the Sino-Soviet Bloc (1st July, 1960–31st December, 1960),” 12 May 1961, in NATOA; 19900317/8, fd. 1, sub-fd. Afrique 1957/77, secret, Note SDECE, Pénétration italienne (ENI) et soviétique dans le domaine pétrolier en Afrique, 30 August 1960 (FOIA n° 111 382), in AN.

21. Telegrammi ordinari, Russia (Ambasciata Mosca), 1960, vol. 59 arrivo (Jul–Dec), n. 36288, Italian Embassy in Moscow (Itemb Moscow) (Pietromarchi) to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Contratto ENI-Finsider,” 3 October 1960; n. 37331, Itemb Moscow (Pietromarchi) to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Importazione petrolio,” 11 October 1960, both in ASMAE; Roberto Cantoni, “Breach of Faith?”

22. Stent, From Embargo to Ostpolitik, esp. 97; Telegrammi ordinari, Russia (Ambasciata Mosca), 1961, vol. 55 arrivo (Jan–Jun), n. 13, Itemb Moscow (Pietromarchi) to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Stampa sovietica,” 2 January 1961, in ASMAE.

23. Foreign Office (FO) 371/153362, fd. RT 1532/17, P. J. E. Male, FO, to J. Gwynn, Ministry of Power, “Italy and Russian Oil”; “Italy Oil Deal with Soviet Weakens Her Ties to West,” New York Times, 11 November 1960, both in TNA.

27. b. 19800118/3 CEE/Hydrocarbures, 1960–2, fd. Politique vis-à-vis des pays de l’Est, Council of European Communities—General Secretary, “Note d’information—Assemblée Parlementaire européenne,” 7 October 1960 (FOIA n° 111 382), in AN.

28. Fondo ENI, Estero, b. 2, fd. 7E6, letter, Itemb Moscow (Pietromarchi) to ENI President (Enrico Mattei), 25 November 1959, in ASENI; ENI President (Enrico Mattei) to Itemb Moscow (Luca Pietromarchi), 28 December 1959, in ASENI; 19900317/13, fd. 1, sub-fd. Italie 1955/1979, secret, Note SDECE, L’activité de l’Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (mai 1958–septembre 1959), 23 October 1959, p. 5 (FOIA n° 111 382), in AN; CIA Records Search Tool Database (CREST), CIA Current Intelligence Weekly Summary, confidential, “Italian Oil Combine May Build Pipeline for USSR,” 28 January 1960, p. 11, in NARA; Record Group (RG) 59, Central Decimal File, 1960–1963, b. 2694, file 865. 2553/1-2660, confidential, Foreign Service Dispatch, US Embassy Rome (Amemb Rome) to State Department, 26 January 1960, in NARA; Bagnato, Prove di Ostpolitik, 176.

29. ENI eventually supplied certain pumping and auxiliary equipment, while the plan to provide technical assistance toward installing the pipelines was dropped. RG 59, Central Decimal File, 1960–1963, b. 2694: file 865.2553/2-660, confidential, Memorandum of Conversation, “Italian Government Guaranteed Credit for Soviet Pipeline Project,” 6 February 1960, in NARA; file 865.25553/3-160, limited official use, Amemb Rome (Zellerbach) to State Department, 1 March 1960, in NARA; 19900317/13, fd. 1, sub-fd. Italie 1955/1979, secret, Note SDECE, L’activité de l’Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (octobre 1959–octobre 1960), 18 October 1960, p. 15 (FOIA n° 111 382), in AN.

30. FO 371/153362, fd. RT 1532/6, f. RT 1532/6D, A. A. Jarratt, Ministry of Power, to J. T. Fearnley, FO, 17 June 1960, p. 10, in TNA.

31. Rassegna stampa estera 1961, n. 39, para 370, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 11 June, in ASENI. The project for the Trieste-Vienna pipeline was approved only in 1963. The laying of the Transalpine Pipeline, as it would be called, was eventually to include a number of majors in addition to ENI. It was commissioned in 1967, while its extension to Vienna had to wait until 1970 to become operational.

32. AC/127-WP/56 (Revised), confidential, “ECONAD, Sino-Soviet Bloc Oil on World Markets, Note by the Economic Service,” 11 July 1960, p. 1; AC/127-R/53, confidential, “ECONAD, Meeting held at the Permanent Headquarters on 21 July 1960, Decision Sheet,” 22 July 1960, p. 1; AC/127-WP/64, confidential, “ECONAD, Study Group on Soviet Oil Policy, Note by the Chairman,” 23 September 1960, pp. 1, 3, all in NATOA. “Dix millions de tonnes de pétrole exportées par le bloc soviétique,” 111–12. On the ad hoc Study Group, see also Bagnato, Prove di Ostpolitik, 383ff.

33. AC/127-WP/66, confidential, “ECONAD, Recent Facts and Figures on Petroleum, Note by the Economic Service,” 30 September 1960, pp. 9, 11–13, in NATOA; Spencer, “The Role of Oil in Soviet Foreign Economic Policy,” 102.

34. Niklas Jensen-Eriksen, “British Government, Business and the Soviet Cold War Oil Offensive, 1957–1964,” 8–9. Jensen-Eriksen’s sources: FO 371/153362, fd. RT 1532/10, secret, “Relations between Signor Mattei and the Western Oil Group,” Ashley Clarke, British Embassy Rome, to Sir Paul Gore-Booth, K.C.M.G. FO, 11 August 1960; box POWE 33/2443: “Note on Soviet Bloc oil exports to the Free World,” J. R. Jenkins, 16 September 1958; A minute by A. B. Powell, 19 May 1960, box POWE 33/2443; all sources in TNA.

35. Fonds Total-CFP, b. 92.26/31, fd. Pétrole soviétique: Notes de M. de Laboulaye, confidential, “Note pour M. Granier de Lilliac,” 18 November 1960, in AHDGT; Fondo ENI, Estero, b. 2, fd. 7E2, Ruffolo (ENI) to Giorgi and Carbone (Italian delegation to NATO), “Memorandum,” 29 December 1960, in ASENI.

36. AC/127(O)R/1, confidential, “ECONAD, Ad Hoc Study Group on Soviet Oil Policy, Meeting held at the Permanent Headquarters, 9 December 1960, Decision Sheet,” 21 December 1960, p. 2, in NATOA.

37. AC/127(O)-WP/2 (Revised), confidential, “Ad Hoc Study Group on Soviet Oil Policy, Draft Report to the Econad,” 28 March 1961; AC/127-D/68, confidential, “ECONAD, Report by the Ad Hoc Study Group on Soviet Oil Policy to ECONAD,” 23 May 1961, pp. 2–6, both in NATOA.

38. AC/127-D/83, secret, “ECONAD, Soviet oil and gas pipelines, Note by the Secretary,” [2 or 3] October 1961, p. 5; AC/127-R/71, confidential, “ECONAD, Meeting held at the Permanent Headquarters, on 20 July 1961, Decision Sheet,” 4 August 1961, p. 5, both in NATOA. On the pipes issue, see also Bagnato, Prove di Ostpolitik, 38ff. Stent’s quote is from her From Embargo to Ostpolitik, 93.

39. Quoted from AC/127-D/68, p. 6, in NATOA.

40. AC/127-D/83, secret, “ECONAD, Soviet oil and gas pipelines, Note by the Secretary,” [2 or 3] October 1961, p. 5, in NATOA. The identity of the military representative is not specified in this document, but is revealed by other documentation.

41. Ibid., 7–14.

42. Simone Turchetti, “Sword, Shield and Buoys,” 208, 224; AC/127-WP/85, secret, “ECONAD, Soviet Oil and Gas Pipelines, Standing Group views,” 9 April 1962, p. 1, in NATOA.

50. The Soviets had placed orders for 240 kt in Italy, 135 kt in Sweden, and 420 kt in Germany. “Le réseau de pipe-lines U.R.S.S.-Europe de l’Est,” 204; “Le potentiel d’exportation russe,” 127.

51. AC/127(O)R/2, confidential, “ECONAD, Ad Hoc Study Group on Soviet Oil Policy, Meeting held at the Permanent Headquarters, 30 and 31 January 1961, Decision Sheet,” 10 February 1961, p. 4, in NATOA.

53. AC/127-R/71, confidential, “ECONAD, Meeting held at the Permanent Headquarters, on 20 July 1961, Decision Sheet,” 4 August 1961, p. 4; AC/127-D/83/1, secret, “ECONAD, Soviet oil and gas pipelines, Note by the Secretary,” 17 October 1961, pp. 3–4, both in NATOA. Unfortunately, I could not retrieve the name of the British delegate from the NATO archives.

54. AC/127-R/76, secret, “ECONAD, Meeting held at the Permanent Headquarters on 19 October 1961,” 28 October 1961, p. 5, in NATOA.

55. AC/127-R/86, secret, “ECONAD, Corrigendum to AC/127-R/86 (dated 13th March, 1962),” 16 March 1962, p. 2, in NATOA. The “special relationship” is a phrase coined by Winston Churchill in 1946, used to describe the exceptionally close political, diplomatic, cultural, economic, military, and historical relations between the United Kingdom and the United States. David Reynolds, “A ‘Special Relationship’?” 1–20.

56. AC/127-R/87, secret, “ECONAD, Meeting held at the Permanent Headquarters on 22 March 1962, Decision Sheet,” 29 March 1962, p. 5, in NATOA. The British delegate was presumably A. K. Potters, who had taken part in all meetings from 1957 to 1959 with no interruptions. Unfortunately, retrieving the names of national ECONAD representatives after December 1959 from NATO archives proved impossible.

57. AC/127-R/87, p. 6, in NATOA.

58. Ibid., 6.

59. Ibid., 9–10.

60. AC/127-R/86, p. 1, in NATOA.

61. Fondo ENI, Estero, Rapporti commerciali con l’estero, b. 2, fd. 7DA, “Altro petrolio sovietico per l’Italia,” Financial Times, 11 December 1959, in ASENI.

62. AC/127(O)WP/2 (Revised)/2, confidential, “ECONAD, Ad Hoc Study Group on Soviet Oil Policy, Comments by the Italian Government on AC/127(O)WP/2 (Revised),” 28 April 1961; AC/127-R/71, confidential, “ECONAD, Meeting held at the Permanent Headquarters, on 20 July 1961, Decision Sheet,” 4 August 1961, pp. 3–4, both in NATOA.

63. Figures are reported from Vneshnaia Torgovlia [recte: Vneshnyaya torgovlya] za 1963–god, 237, as cited in Stent, From Embargo to Ostpolitik, 101.

66. AC/127-R/87, p. 11, in NATOA. The quote is from p. 12.

67. Ibid., 12. My italics.

68. C-M(62)51, secret, “Soviet Pipeline System–Note by the Chairman of ECONAD,” 2 May 1962, passim, in NATOA.

69. C-R(62)26, secret, “Summary record of a meeting of the Council, held at the Permanent Headquarters on 17 May 1962,” 23 May 1962, pp. 11–12, in NATOA.

70. C-R(62)40, secret, “Summary record of a meeting of the Council, held at the Permanent Headquarters on 8 August 1962,” 21 August 1962, pp. 9–11; AC/127-D/107, secret, “ECONAD, Soviet Pipeline System, Report of the Group of Experts,” 8 October 1962; AC/127-R/97, secret, “ECONAD, Meeting held at the Permanent Headquarters on 5 October 1962, Decision Sheet,” 10 October 1962; AC/127-D/107; C-M(62)104, secret, “Soviet Pipeline System, Report by ECONAD,” 29 October 1962; Annex to AC/127-R/99, secret, “Soviet Pipeline System, Statement of the United Kingdom Position,” 6 November 1962, pp. 1–2, all in NATOA.

71. Quoted from AC/127-D/107/1, secret, “ECONAD, Soviet Pipeline System, Draft Report to the Council, Note by the Secretary,” 19 October 1962, p. 2, in NATOA.

72. AC/127-R/106, secret, “ECONAD, Meeting held at the Permanent Headquarters on 7 March 1963, Decision Sheet,” 13 March 1963, p. 1, in NATOA.

74. C-R(63)14, secret, “Summary record of a meeting of the Council, held at the Permanent Headquarters on 20 March 1963,” 27 March 1963, p. 23, in NATOA.

76. Ibid., 95–96.

77. Fondo ENI, Presidenza Raffaele Girotti, b. 264, fd. 482E, G. Ratti, “Promemoria riservato per l’Ing. Mattei,” 10 February 1962; G. Ratti, “Promemoria riservato per l’Ing. Mattei,” 12 February 1962, both in ASENI; quote is from the latter document. The actual amount of pipe was 180 kt.

78. Fondo ENI, Presidenza Raffaele Girotti, b. 264, fd. 482E, G. Ratti, “Promemoria riservato per l’Ing. Mattei,” 12 February 1962; Fondo ENI, Presidenza Eugenio Cefis, b. 24, fd. CB8: letter, Enrico Mattei to Ernesto Manuelli, 12 February 1962 (quote is from this document); note for the Foreign Minister [Antonio Segni], unsigned [prob. Giuseppe Ratti], February 1962, all in ASENI.

79. Fondo ENI, Presidenza Raffaele Girotti, b. 264, fd. 482E, G. Ratti, “Colloquio con l’Ambasciatore Ortona sulla fornitura di tubi Finsider all’U.R.S.S.,” 14 February 1962; Fondo ENI, Presidenza Eugenio Cefis, b. 24, fd. CB8, letter, Ernesto Manuelli to Enrico Mattei, 7 March 1962, both in ASENI.

80. Quoted from Fondo ENI, Presidenza Raffaele Girotti, b. 264, fd. 482E, G. Ratti, “Promemoria per l’Ing. Mattei,” 30 March 1962, in ASENI. My own translation.

81. C-R(63)21, secret, “Summary record of a meeting of the Council, held at the Permanent Headquarters on 24 April 1963,” 2 May 1963, p. 8; AC/127-WP/188/1, secret, “ECONAD, Sale of large diameter pipe to Soviet Bloc countries—Addendum to the note by the French Delegation circulated as AC/127-WP/188,” 6 October 1966, p. 1, both in NATOA. On Japan’s foreign relations in the 1950s and 1960s, see Kevin Cooney, Japan’s Foreign Policy since 1945, 23–36.

83. AC/127-D/220, confidential, ECONAD, “Sale of large-diameter pipe to Soviet Bloc countries—Note forwarded by the Delegations of France and of the Federal Republic of Germany,” 29 August 1966, p. 1, in NATOA; Stern, Soviet Oil and Gas Exports to the West, 27, 30.

85. AC/127-D/220, p. 2; AC/127-WP/188 (19 September 1966), AC/127-R/185 (same date), AC/127-WP/190 (21 September 1966), AC/127-WP/192 (4 October 1966), AC/127-R/194 (30 January 1967), both in NATOA.

87. This thesis is defended in Stent, From Embargo to Ostpolitik, 103.

90. See p. 75 of this article.

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