Mobil Oil Corp. sent a telegram to President Carter yesterday pledging its support for his voluntary wage-price standards and saying that the company still believes it was in compliance with them in the third quarter of last year.
The Council of Wage and Price stablty has charged that the Mobil refining and marketing division's gross margins exceed allowed limits by $45 million during that quarter. President Carter has condemned Mobil twice publicly for being cut of compliance. Mobil so far offered to reduce revenues by only $5 million to be considered in compliance, administration sources said. b
In the telegram, Mobil President William P. Tavoulareas argued, as the company has previously, that the COWPS "retroactively informed us that compliance for the year ending Sept. 30, 1979, be measured in quarters. They said they would therefore ignore the fact that we were in compliance for the full year. . . ."
In rejecting this defense before it found Mobil out of compliance, the COWPS said the requirement for quarterly compliance was clear well before the three months in question.
Tavoulareas told Carter, "You should know that Mobil fully supports the voluntary wage and price controls program. We believe we were in compliance for the year ending September 1979. We also have every intention to live within the guidelines for 1980."
The COWPS has notified the federal procurement office of the Office of Management and Budget that Mobil is out of compliance, while under Carter's orders is supposed to make Mobil ineligible to receive any government contracts.
As to that, Tavoulareas said, "We believe any sanctions against a company that honestly feels it is in compliance with voluntary guidelines connot be the type of action that the administration should support.
"Mobil stands ready to roll back its prices if it can be demonstrated that we violated any guidelines in effect when we purchased and sold our supplies in the compliance year ending Sept. 30, 1979. In the meantime, we would be willing, if you so desire, to put the disputed amount ($45 million) in escrow for six months in the belief that the dispute can be resolved in that period of time."
In his denunciation of Mobil last Friday, Carter had said the company could get back into compliance by reducing its gasoline prices by 3 cents a gallon for three months.
In newspaper advertisements running this week, Mobil said one of its directors. Allen Murray, met that morning with COWPS Director Robert T. Russell to discuss the situation but that such a suggestion wasn't mentioned.
Administration sources said Murray offered at that meeting to reduce Mobil's current revenues by $5 million but the amount is so much less than $45 million that Russell declined to consider it.