Dresser France yesterday appealed to the Commerce Department to lift trade sanctions ordered against the firm for defying President Reagan's embargo against the Soviet-Western Europe natural gas pipeline by selling three big compressors to the Soviet Union.
Attorneys for the firm, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dresser Industries of Dallas, argued that, by imposing the sanctions, the Reagan administration violated "constitutional due process and the statutory and regulatory authority of the Commerce Department."
The sanctions, said Dresser France's attorneys, punish the firm "for events it did not commit and which were totally beyond its legal control." They are, the attorneys added, actually an attempt by the Reagan administration to retaliate against the French government for ordering that the compressors be shipped.
The compressors left France Thursday on a ship bound for the Soviet Union, and the Reagan administration immediatedly issued an order prohibiting Dresser France and Creusot-Loire, a French government-owned industrial giant, from importing any U.S. goods, services or technology until further notice.
It continued to appear yesterday that the dispute between the United States and its major European allies over the pipeline embargo would widen.
A Soviet ship was expected to arrive in Glascow Monday to begin loading turbines manufactured by John Brown Engineering Ltd., a British firm, for use in the pipeline, which will carry natural gas from Siberia to Western Europe.
The turbines use rotors built in the United States by General Electric.
Although the components were sold to the British firm before the embargo was first issued last December, their sale violates the embargo against use of U.S. technology in construction of the pipeline.
This could bring Britain and West Germany into the dispute. A giant West German firm, Mannesman, is the prime contractor for one tier of the pipeline, and contracted with John Brown to build the turbines.
This is the same relationship Creusot-Loire, a prime contractor for another tier of the pipeline, had with Dresser France for the compressors.
The West German and British firms would thus both be involved if the Reagan administration used the same criteria in again imposing sanctions. An Italian firm is also said to be ready to ship pipeline parts to the Soviets.
John Ellicott and James R. Atwood, attorneys for Dresser France, yesterday argued in a legal memorandum to the Commerce Department that the firm will suffer "serious, irreparable harm" as a result of the "illegal denial of its export privileges."
The firm depends on a constant flow of technology and advice from Dresser Industries, its American parent, to produce its two major products, compressors and drilling rigs, the attorneys argued.
A commissioner in the Commerce Department's International Trade Administration will hold a hearing on the appeal. No date has been set for the appeal, a spokesman said.
Reagan issued the embargo to protest the military crackdown in Poland, but has been unable to dissuade this nation's European allies from going ahead with plans to build the $11 billion pipeline.