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Senate questions U.S. export of so-called condensates

Commerce Department says there's been no shift in policy.
By Daniel J. Graeber   |   July 3, 2014 at 9:30 AM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, July 3 (UPI) -- There may have been some violations of the ban on crude oil exports from the United States, two Democratic senators told the Commerce Department.

Pioneer Natural Resources and Enterprise Products Partners were authorized last month by the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security, a division of the Commerce Department, to export so-called condensate.

Crude oil exports are banned under legislation enacted in response to the 1970s oil embargo by Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. There are no such restrictions for petroleum products like gasoline and other fuel products.

U.S. Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., asked Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to explain the decision.

"The Commerce Department does not appear to possess the authority to issue exemptions for condensates or some subset of condensates from the crude export restrictions," they said in a letter sent Wednesday.

An increase in U.S. crude oil production has been met by calls to ease the export ban. Senate Republicans have said the 40-year-old moratorium is outdated.

The Commerce Department in June said the decision on condensates does not represent a major shift in U.S. export policy.

Pioneer and Enterprise have been quiet on the decision.

Follow @dan_graeber and @UPI on Twitter.
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