The Reagan administration yesterday limited the scope of sanction orders against Dresser France, the subsidiary of Dresser Industries involved in the disputed sale of equipment for the Soviet-European gas pipeline.
But similar modifications for another French company, Creusot-Loire, were pulled back at the last minute.
Attorneys for Creusot-Loire objected when the Commerce Department said it planned to extend the sanctions to cover a number of the company's affiliates or subsidiaries at the same time that the department proposed to limit the scope of the sanctions to oil- and gas-related equipment.
The more limited sanctions were put into effect late yesterday afternoon aganist Dresser France, scaling down a blanket order that originally had prohibited the company from exporting any U.S. goods, services or technology.
The more limited sanctions were put into effect late Saturday against the Italian company Nuovo Pignone, when a freighter carrying two U.S.-designed turbines sailed for the Soviet Union.
Officials have indicated that the same sanctions await a British company, John Brown Engineering Co. Ltd., when a freighter carrying pipeline machinery leaves Glasgow, Scotland. The ship has been docked there for almost a week, and U.S. officials indicated yesterday that they expect it to leave today.
There has been no explanation for the delay, although there has been speculation that it was linked to efforts by European officials to reach a compromise with the Reagan administration on the pipeline issue before U.S.-European relations are damaged further.
Officials of Britain, France, West Germany and Italy met in London Friday, and administration sources said yesterday that they expect to receive an invitation to a ministerial-level meeting to discuss the issue in the near future.
Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger and British Foreign Secretary Francis Pym discussed the high-level talks yesterday in London but neither a date nor a place for such talks was decided on, Washington Post foreign correspondent Peter Osnos reported. Sources close to the talks said, however, that the principals were in agreement that a way "must be found to resolve" differences over the issue.
British Finance Minister Geoffrey Howe said yesterday in Toronto that he had seen "an increasing flexibility" on the part of the United States on the "difficult" issue.
Treasury Secretary Donald T. Regan said Monday that the United States was willing to consider lifting the sanctions if the Europeans could propose alternative economic pressures that could be applied to the Soviets.
James Atwood of Covington and Burling, which is representing Dresser France in proceedings before a Commerce hearing examiner, said yesterday that the modification order is "of some help" but "does not solve our problems, by any means."
The modified order prohibits Dresser France from selling "U.S.-origin commodities or technical data for or relating to oil and gas exploration, production, transmission or refinement."
Officials indicated last weekend that the same modifications would be put into effect against the wholly owned French company Creusot-Loire, but Commerce general counsel Sherman E. Unger said yesterday that the order was held back after attorneys for the company objected to expanding it to cover subsidiaries.