Debate stirs over benefits of U.S. oil exports

Jan. 31, 2014 at 7:57 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The American Petroleum Institute said exporting U.S. crude oil could mean lower energy costs for consumers, an issue countered by others in the energy sector.

API, an industry lobby representing more than 580 companies, said a study it commissioned from energy consultant group ICF International indicates exporting crude oil from the United States could translate to $6.6 billion in savings for U.S. consumers by 2020.

"It's undeniable that the American energy revolution has rendered our current export policies obsolete," API Vice President for Economic Policy Kyle Isakower said in a statement Thursday. "Allowing exports will ensure that U.S. production remains strong in a way that supports American consumers."

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee summoned industry officials to testify Thursday about the prospects of exporting more crude oil. Laws enacted after the 1970s Arab oil embargo restrict domestic oil exports.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, ranking member of the committee, said lifting the ban would be good for the economy.

"Opening up world markets to U.S. crude oil will lower the global price, which will in turn lower the global prices for petroleum products," she testified.

Graeme Burnett, a senior vice president from Delta Air Lines, which owns a refinery in Pennsylvania, said she wasn't convinced there would be benefits from crude oil exports.

"Exporting U.S. crude makes little sense," she testified. "If we allow for the export of U.S. crude, we'll have to import more oil from overseas and subject ourselves, once again, to an increasing degree of price volatility and higher global prices."

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