The Maritime Administration expects to reach agreement within two weeks to allow Kuwait to charter at least two American-owned supertankers that would carry American crews on potentially dangerous oil runs in the Persian Gulf.

U.S. officials said the pact, under discussion since May, is motivated largely by Kuwait's desire to establish broader political support here and to appease U.S. maritime interests after the controversial U.S. reflagging of 11 Kuwaiti ships.

The agreement would appear to deepen the Reagan administration's commitment to Kuwait by directly involving U.S. civilian ships and crews to assure the safe transit of Kuwaiti oil from the gulf amid increasing Iranian threats.

Under the arrangement, U.S. civilians would be placed for the first time in danger of potential hostilities in the gulf. Each supertanker usually has a 25-person crew.

Administration officials said Kuwait is expected to charter at least two 265,000-ton crude-oil carriers, the Maryland and the New York. The Maritime Administration helped to finance their construction in the mid-1970s and is repossessing them from Seatrain, a bankrupt U.S. company.

The officials said Kuwait initially expressed interest in chartering several U.S. tankers early last May, far earlier than had been known publicly, and during the time it was working out the details on U.S. reflagging of 11 Kuwaiti vessels.

One U.S. official, who asked not to be named, said there is "obviously" a political motivation to the Kuwaiti decision to charter the two carriers and perhaps a third, the Massachusetts, also a 265,000-ton ship.

The official said that, to do so, the Kuwaitis would have to pay three to four times the cost of leasing foreign tankers, largely because of U.S. requirements that American ships carry American crews.

"I think they sense a desire to do business with the U.S. government," the official said.

Capt. Timothy Stafford, operations manager of Kuwait Oil Tanker Co. in Kuwait City, virtually confirmed that this was Kuwait's motivation for chartering the tankers.

"The companies take their cut. You might as well deal with the men who know what they're doing," he said.

"The Marad {Maritime Administration} people are pulling the strings. So go to the top. There are a couple of tankers available there, and that's what we're looking at," he said.

Another reason the Kuwaitis are interested in leasing, according to U.S. officials, is to appease members of Congress and U.S. maritime unions critical of the administration's reflagging decision, made at a time when more than 40 U.S. tankers are in mothballs for lack of business.

However, the Kuwaiti decision encountered stiff opposition yesterday from another quarter. A spokesman for the Dallas-based Petrofina Co., which is seeking to lease two of its 225,000-ton supertankers to Kuwait, charged that the government is taking business from private U.S. firms.

"I don't think it's fair to have to go into competition with the U.S. government on a free-enterprise issue," said Mark Palmer, Petrofina's public relations director.

Palmer said Petrofina had asked Kuwait Oil Tanker Co. two weeks ago whether it was in the market for leasing U.S. tankers and was told that it was not.

"They just flat turned us down and said they didn't want to charter any ships," Palmer said.

Last Monday, the Maritime Administration opened public bidding, as it is required to do, on chartering of the Maryland. Bidding is to close Sept. 4.

"We expect when the bidding closes Sept. 4, the Kuwaitis will win," a U.S. government official said yesterday.

The Delaware-based Chesapeake Shipping Co., established by Kuwait as owner and operator of its 11 reflagged tankers, will bid on behalf of the Kuwaiti government, the official said.

The official said the Maritime Administration, on the assumption that Kuwait would proceed with the charter, has reserved a slot Sept. 11 at a dry dock in Portland, Ore., for inspection and repair of the Maryland.

It and the New York are in mothballs there, while the Massachusetts is docked in Trinidad and Tobago.

The officials said that repairs on the Maryland should take about three weeks and that Kuwait could begin using it in early October.

The Maritime Administration bought the Maryland for $5 million when the tanker was sold Aug. 20 after foreclosure procedures initiated by the agency.

Foreclosure came about 18 months ago when Seatrain stopped meeting payments on its charter fees, according to agency officials.

The administration has not taken official possession of the New York, but completion of foreclosure procedures on it is "imminent," an agency official said.

The Maritime Administration was the prime bidder on the Maryland because it held the first mortgage on the ship, as it does on the two other former Seatrain-chartered supertankers, the New York and the Massachusetts.

In the mid-1970s, the agency provided $100 million in financing guarantees to a subsidiary of the First National Bank of Boston, which built the three tankers, according to administration sources.

Seatrain subcontracted them in 1981 from the subsidiary and held a long-term lease when it went bankrupt shortly afterward.

But Seatrain continued to make payments on the chartered tankers, used in the Alaskan oil trade, until about two years ago.

Seatrain's default on payments led the Maritime Administration, as holder of first mortgage on the three ships, to foreclose and take steps to repossess them.Washington Post correspondent Richard M. Weintraub contributed to this report from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.