Is It Time for U.S. to Start Exporting More Crude Oil?

Picture released, 12 December 2007 by the Norwegian Coastal Administration showing an aerial photo of the tanker Navion Britannia which was loading oil from a loading buoy and left a major oilspill in Statfjord, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the Norwegian coast. According to preliminary estimates from the Petroleum Safety Authority, some 3,840 cubic metres, the equivalent of 24,150 barrels or 3,220 tonnes of oil, had spilled into the sea.
National Journal
Ben Geman
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Ben Geman
Dec. 13, 2013, 5:34 a.m.

En­ergy Sec­ret­ary Ern­est Mon­iz said the near-ban on U.S. crude oil ex­ports is ripe for re­vis­it­ing, com­ments that ar­rive as ma­jor pro­du­cers in­clud­ing Ex­xon Mo­bil are press­ing to re­lax lim­its im­posed in the 1970s.

His re­marks Thursday in New York, re­por­ted by Platts, were quite cau­tious. And Mon­iz noted that it’s not his de­part­ment’s de­cision to make.

But the state­ments are non­ethe­less likely to fuel in­creas­ing in­dustry calls for end­ing ma­jor re­stric­tions cre­ated in the wake of the early-1970s Ar­ab oil em­bargo.

“Those re­stric­tions on ex­ports were born, as was the De­part­ment of En­ergy and the Stra­tegic Pet­ro­leum Re­serve, on oil dis­rup­tions,” Mon­iz said at a for­um hos­ted by Platts.

“There are lots of is­sues in the en­ergy space that de­serve some new ana­lys­is and ex­am­in­a­tion in the con­text of what is now an en­ergy world that is no longer like the 1970s,” Mon­iz said.

U.S. oil pro­duc­tion is at its highest point in 25 years and the na­tion’s re­li­ance on im­ports is fall­ing. That has promp­ted ex­port ad­voc­ates to ar­gue that it’s time to re­think U.S. laws and policies that only al­low crude oil ex­ports in very lim­ited cases.

The U.S. cur­rently ex­ports a small amount of crude oil to Canada.

“We are not deal­ing with an era of scarcity, we are deal­ing with a situ­ation of abund­ance,” Ken Co­hen, Ex­xon’s vice pres­id­ent of pub­lic and gov­ern­ment af­fairs, told The Wall Street Journ­al this week. “We need to re­think the reg­u­lat­ory scheme and the stat­utory scheme on the books.”

Mon­iz said that his de­part­ment stands ready to provide tech­nic­al ana­lys­is to the Com­merce De­part­ment, which has jur­is­dic­tion over crude oil ex­ports.

The oil in­dustry is weigh­ing an ef­fort to chal­lenge the ban by ar­guing that it vi­ol­ates in­ter­na­tion­al trade law.

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