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Murkowski Urges Obama Administration to Lift Crude Oil Export Ban

Image: Murkowski Urges Obama Administration to Lift Crude Oil Export Ban Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

By Elliot Jager   |   Wednesday, 25 Jun 2014 07:00 AM

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the top Republican on the Senate energy committee, has urged the Obama administration to altogether rescind the 40-year-old ban on crude exports. She was reacting to a report that the U.S. Commerce Department will allow two companies to export shipments of light oil products.

The department's decision "is a reasonable first step that reflects the new reality of our energy landscape," said Murkowski.

Back in Alaska she has been urging voters not to repeal a measure that granted tax breaks to oil companies, KTUU television reported.

In opposing Ballot Measure 1, a state referendum that would reverse current tax policies on oil, Murkowski said, "Oil and gas production is booming in the Lower 48 and Alaska has been exporting its workforce. Compared to the relative ease of drilling wells off a road system, operating in Alaska is challenging and expensive, so our tax structure must be competitive."

Proponents of Ballot Measure 1 counter that the current system provides tax breaks to oil companies but does not help ordinary Alaskans.

Democratic Sen. Mark Begich said he would not be taking a public stand on the state ballot measure. His Republican opponent, Dan Sullivan, a former natural resources commissioner opposes the measure, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Voters will decide the measure on August 19th.

The Wall Street Journal  first reported the loosening of the oil export ban.

Commerce is allowing two Texas firms, Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and Enterprise Products Partners to export condensate or ultra-light oil. Exports could begin as soon as August.

The department said there was "no change in policy on crude oil exports," according to the Journal.

Other companies pumping from shale are expected to apply for similar exemptions. Oil companies continue to push for a total lifting of the export ban on all types of U.S. crude.

Kevin Book, managing director at ClearView Energy Partners said, "They want a whole-hog liberalization of exports. Condensate is kind of a baby step in the eyes of some of the producers."

Since the 1973 Arab oil embargo, U.S. law forbids the export of crude oil though refined fuel such as gasoline and diesel is exempted.

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