Law on Lifting US Oil Export Ban Heads to Senate Floor

The U.S. Senate Energy Committee passed a bill aimed at lifting the ban on exporting domestic crude oil production.

The bill was approved by a vote of 12-10 and is heading for the Senate floor after the August break.

The bill contains provisions aimed at unlocking crude oil exports and further facilitating exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

“Our committee today took bold steps to update and modernize our nation’s energy policies. Our broad energy bill drew overwhelming bipartisan support, and a majority of our committee supported my legislation to expand revenue sharing, increase offshore development, and lift the oil export ban,” U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said.

Senator Murkowski stressed the importance of the bill while speaking at this year’s CERAWeek in Houston, Texas, saying that the bill was particularly important in the context of the lifting of nuclear sanctions against Iran, which could soon bring as much as 1 million barrels a day of Iranian oil onto the global market.

“The United States has a general prohibition – a ‘ban’ – on exports of domestic crude oil.  To me, this equates to a sanctions regime against ourselves,” Murkowski said. “It hurts American producers, who have to sell oil at a significant discount to Brent, and it hurts American consumers, whose prices at the pump are higher than they would otherwise be.”

If approved, Murkowski’s Offshore Production and National Security Act (OPENS) would also ensure Alaska and other coastal states receive a fair share of the revenue from oil and gas activity off their shores.

The legislation would ensure that additional areas of America’s offshore areas open to oil and gas exploration.

In addition, the committee on Thursday approved the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015, which chairman Murkowski crafted with ranking member Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., by a vote of 18 to 4.