Lifting Ban on U.S. Crude Experts Lucrative: Company-Financed Study

Energy giants Exxon Mobil Corp. and Halliburton Co. are among the underwriters of a new study that finds ending a four-decade ban on U.S. crude oil exports will be good for drivers and the nation.

The overseas sales would spur $746 billion in investment from 2016 to 2030, adding almost 1 million jobs in the oil patch and other industries, according to the study by consultants IHS  Inc. Perhaps even better, scrapping limits as proposed by Republicans and some Democrats in Congress would lift production, ease world oil prices and lower gasoline costs, the study found. Motorists would save $265 billion.

“There’s a lot of emotion around this but when you realize that the ban was really related to a price control system that didn’t work and that the ban on product exports was lifted in 1981, you kind of say this really is a sort of an archaic remnant of another era,” Daniel Yergin, co-author of the report, said in an interview. “We’ll be better off economically as a country.”

Crude production has surged to 8.434 million barrels a day, the highest since 1986, as hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling boost U.S. output, the Energy Department said earlier this month. Domestic production met 87 percent of energy needs in 2013 and 90 percent in December, the most since March 1985, and imports fell to a 17-year low.

That has encouraged leaders such as Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to call for an end of the law that bans most crude exports. Murkowski, whose state is the fourth-biggest U.S. oil producer by volume, has said she will introduce legislation to change the law if President Barack Obama fails to act. U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has said it’s time to revisit the policy.

“This is a new subject that’s really burst upon the scene,” said Yergin, author of “The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World.” “The thinking is really catching up with this new reality that American is at a different energy position.”


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