Crude Oil Exports

In 1975, the United States government enacted limitations on the export of crude oil to prevent exposure to a volatile world market. Today, with the advancement of innovative technology, America’s energy industry is booming. The United States has surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas. However, the laws that governed America’s crude oil exports were outdated. By lifting the federal ban on oil exports, the United States has seen increased investment in free trade, economic growth, new American jobs, and a reduced need for importing foreign oil from the Middle East. IPAA, its member companies, and its industry partners strongly urged the Obama administration and Congress to facilitate the United States’ ability to export crude oil based on national policy interests. On December 18, 2015, President Barack Obama signed into law legislation funding the federal government, which included a provision that lifted the restrictions on U.S. crude oil exports.

Frequently Asked Questions on Crude Exports

Q: Why did the United States ban the export of crude oil in 1975?

In 1975, the United States government enacted limitations on the export of crude oil to protect American consumers from price volatility on the world market. Today, America has an abundance of energy supplies, brought on by the advancement of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technology. The United States is now the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas – surpassing Saudi Arabia and Russia. The laws that governed America’s crude oil exports were outdated and inconsistent. Prior to the lifting of the ban in 2015, the surplus of American crude oil could not be exported, while were no restrictions on exporting U.S. gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other forms of fossil energy.

Q: How do crude oil exports impact America’s gasoline prices?

Gasoline prices are tied to international oil prices and set by the global market. Then-U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz confirmed at a February 2015 Senate hearing that if the United States exported its surplus of crude oil, there would be no change or even “minor decreases” in the price of U.S. gasoline. Adding more reliable American energy supplies to the global market reduces market volatility, helps stabilize international oil prices, and therefore helps lower gasoline prices in the U.S.

Q: What are the economic benefits of exporting U.S. crude oil?

Exporting the surplus of American crude production unleashes the full potential of America’s energy renaissance. Numerous independent and non-political economic studies confirmed that repealing the crude oil export ban will lead to more good-paying American jobs, reduced pressure on gasoline prices, increased American energy production, greater national security, and will strengthen America’s credibility around the world. The previous ban on crude oil exports put United States companies at a competitive disadvantage, preventing them from competing on an equal playing field with international state-owned and private competitors in the very global marketplace that sets the energy prices driving their businesses. Repealing the crude exports ban provided America’s energy producers with competitive access to the global trade market, which further reduced the impact of global unrest on the price of oil.

Q: What does this mean for American consumers?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration and numerous independent economic studies have confirmed that expanding U.S. crude oil exports would lead to lower gasoline prices for consumers, allowing American families to pocket more of their hard-earned dollars instead of paying more to fill-up their cars each day. Export of America’s energy supply surplus encourages U.S. producers to reinvest their money into generating more American-made energy, which powers the economy, increases national energy security, and keeps energy costs down for the consumer.

Q: How does exporting crude oil affect United States foreign policy and national security?

Allowing the export of surplus American crude oil production reduces the need for the United States’ allies to import oil from volatile regions of the world. Given the increased security threats facing the nation and its allies, the United States must leverage its abundant energy resources to further enhance its economic and national security. Crude oil exports provide America with greater foreign policy influence and would strengthen its trading position worldwide.

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IPAA is the industry’s strongest presence in the nation’s capital and these are important times. The entire oil and gas industry remains under fire from anti-development groups; but with these challenges arise unique opportunities that IPAA is seizing for our members.