API reacted to data from the U.S. Commerce Department showing exports of petroleum and petroleum products are up more than $1.2 billion year-on-year.
"Domestic oil and natural gas production helped drive record exports last year, and our ability to impact global markets continues to grow," API Chief Economist John Felmy said in a Wednesday statement. "But America's potential as an energy superpower remains limited by outdated trade restrictions that prevent more U.S. oil and natural gas from reaching global markets."
Crude oil exports are restricted by legislation enacted in the 1970s in response to an embargo from Arab states within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Natural gas exports in the form of liquefied natural gas require special federal consideration for countries that don't have a U.S. free-trade agreement, which includes members of the European Union.
Critics of more exports say it will lead to an increase in hydraulic fracturing, the controversial drilling practice behind the U.S. oil and gas boom, and higher domestic energy prices.
Felmy, however, said lifting trade barriers will create more jobs in the U.S. market and increase economic leverage overseas.