The United States is relaxing a decades-long policy that has largely prohibited exports of unrefined American crude oil, and will now allow two Texas-based firms to sell ultra-light oil known as condensate overseas, the Wall St. Journal (WSJ) reported Tuesday.
The move effectively loosens a ban on exports that have been in place for nearly 40 years, brought in at the height of energy crisis.
The WSJ report said that a ruling by the U.S. Commerce Dept.'s Bureau of Industry and Security will now allow Enterprise Products Partners LP of Houston and Pioneer Natural Resources Co. of Irving to export the oil to international buyers, who would then be able to turn that oil into diesel, gasoline and jet fuel.
Last month, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said at a press briefing in South Korea that overseas sales of crude oil might soon be allowed because domestic stockpiles have hit record highs above and beyond refinery capacity in the states.
Oil production has been spurred in recent years due in large part to hydraulic fracturing, often referred to as fracking.
But at present, U.S. companies are allowed to only export refined fuel as a result of the 1975 ban on crude oil, with only a few exceptions allowed.
Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski urged the Obama administration on Tuesday to fully lift the 40-year-old ban on crude exports.
"Commerce's decision to allow companies to process condensate and export the resulting products is a reasonable first step that reflects the new reality of our energy landscape," Murkowski, the top Republican on the Senate energy committee, said in a release. "I continue to urge the administration to fully lift the ban on crude oil and condensate exports."
Al Jazeera and Reuters