Lifting 40-year Ban on Exporting U.S. Crude Oil: Senate Energy Committee Chair to Introduce New Bill

On April 21, the Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), told the audience at an energy conference that she will introduce a bill to lift the 40-year ban on the export of U.S. crude oil.

Murkowski said the impetus for her plan is the possibility of the six major world powers reaching an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program and relaxing sanctions that have kept much of Iran’s oil off the international market. She also spoke in favor of taking advantage of exemptions in current law.

For example, Murkowski is pushing the Commerce Department to accept a proposal made by Mexico’s state-owned oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), to swap up to 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Mexican dark crude for U.S. light crude oil. This deal would benefit U.S. Gulf Coast refineries that have invested heavily to retrofit their facilities for processing heavier crude, and are already importing significant quantities of the heavier crude from Mexico and other countries.

Crowell & Moring will continue to monitor hearings and proposed legislation to keep clients up to date on what could potentially be a significant shift in U.S. oil policy.

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