| WASHINGTON, June 6
WASHINGTON, June 6 Continental Resources
, the largest leaseholder in the booming North Dakota oil
fields, recently applied for a U.S. license to swap crude oil
abroad in an attempt to get around the country's 40-year ban on
exports, a spokeswoman confirmed on Friday.
"The pending license is to further demonstrate the need for
a free market for crude, just like refined products already
have," the spokeswoman said, without specifying when Continental
made the application.
Continental applied for the license through the Department
of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security, which did not
comment on the matter.
The United States may soon pass Russia and Saudi Arabia to
become the world's top oil producer thanks to hydraulic
fracturing, or fracking, and other modern drilling techniques.
That has led to a surge in exports of refined products like
gasoline and heating oil, which are allowed by U.S. law. But
most crude exports have been banned since shortly after the Arab
oil embargo of the 1970s.
Before the domestic oil boom, many U.S. refiners invested
billions of dollars so their plants could process heavy oil from
Mexico, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. Now domestic drillers are
looking for ways to lessen their glut of light crude.
"Our belief is that the market for light sweet crude extends
beyond the borders of the U.S., and as such, there is a need for
lifting the ban," said the Continental spokeswoman, who would
not reveal commercial terms of the swap application first
reported by Dow Jones.
Senator Lisa Murkowski, the top Republican on the chamber's
energy committee, last month issued a report saying swaps of
light sweet crude to nearby countries like Mexico would be one
way for the United States to start shrink the growing glut.
Under such a swap, Mexico could refine light oil
to make gasoline for its market, and would send heavy oil to
There is no major legislation on tap to reverse the crude
oil export ban. But analysts expect Congress will take up the
issue sometime after the Nov. 4 congressional elections.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner, editing by Ros Krasny; Editing
by Chizu Nomiyama)