Posted December 20, 2013
Momentum is building for revisiting decades-old restrictions on U.S. exports of oil and natural gas. For months we’ve talked about the benefits of exporting liquefied natural gas. Now the U.S. ban on crude oil exports also is being discussed. Earlier this month Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said much has changed since the crude oil export ban was created:
“Those restrictions on exports were born, as was the Department of Energy and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, on oil disruptions. There are lots of issues in the energy space that deserve some new analysis and examination in the context of what is now an energy world that is no longer like the 1970s.”
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) and the Washington Post have called for an end to the crude oil export ban. With the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s newest outlook projecting continued growth in U.S. production of oil – nearing the 1970 record of 9.6 million barrels per day – and natural gas, discussion of exporting American energy makes economic sense. API’s Erik Milito, upstream group director, detailed the case for exporting crude and natural gas during a conference call with reporters:
“It’s undeniable that the American energy revolution has rendered our current export policies obsolete. By restricting the export of crude oil and liquefied natural gas, current policies also restrain job creation, economic growth and further production gains.”
Milito said America’s oil and natural gas industry, using advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques, is turning the country’s vast shale reserves into jobs and economic growth. Unconventional oil and natural gas development has created more than 2.1 million jobs while adding more than $200 billion to U.S. GDP. Milito:
“We’ve come to a point in our energy present that could lead to a significantly better energy future. … What we need to do is to embrace this energy renaissance we’re entering into. And to do that we need to make sure we’re looking at it from a broad energy policy perspective – removing obstacles to future growth.. … When you have these restrictions eased and lifted, you have more jobs.”
Studies show the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) would generate broad positive economic impact without risking domestic supply affordability. EIA’s new outlook found that U.S. natural gas reserves are large enough to supply domestic and international demand without adversely affecting energy security or domestic prices. Milito:
“Increased access to overseas markets will stimulate even more domestic production, which is why studies consistently show the most robust export scenarios generate the highest levels of job and economic benefits. The same supply and demand principles hold true for crude oil. … Exporting a portion of our abundant crude oil supply would provide greater stability to the global supply while creating jobs and generating revenues stateside.”
Trade is a win-win for the United States. The export of a valuable commodity brings wealth into this country, supporting expanded domestic energy development, job creation and economic growth. All contribute to greater energy security and greater U.S. leverage in the world. Milito:
“We are now a global energy superpower that has elevated us to a position of prominence around the globe. We need to maintain that. (Exports) allows us to have more relevance when it comes to a debate around geopolitical issues and when it comes to the influence, potentially, of adversarial regimes around the world. The U.S. should be looking at this not only from the position of the economic growth we’ll achieve, but this is clearly an area where it’s in our national interest to have that status as global energy superpower retained well into the future.”
President Obama has pledged a doubling of U.S. exports, which is a laudable objective. U.S. oil and natural gas can play a big part – if we choose policies that will allow it. These include swift approval of all pending applications for LNG export to non-free trade agreement countries and a lifting of oil export restrictions that are four decades old. Let America’s energy work for Americans.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.