January 14, 2014 / 6:10 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 2-Republican senator urges Obama to lift US crude export ban

* U.S. law allows export of oil products, not crude
    * Senator would consider legislation if Obama stalls

    By Timothy Gardner
    WASHINGTON, Jan 14 (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski
on Tuesday urged President Barack Obama to lift a ban on
exporting U.S.-produced crude oil, stepping up pressure on the
administration to allow producers involved in the domestic
energy boom to gain access to global markets. 
    "Lifting the ban will help create jobs, boost the economy
and keep our production at record levels," Murkowski, from
Alaska and the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural
Resources Committee, said in a letter to Obama. 
    While U.S. energy companies are allowed to export oil
products, including gasoline and jet fuel, a presidential waiver
from current laws is required to sell most crude oil abroad.
    The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 and the Outer Continental
Shelf Leasing Act effectively bar exports for now.
    "While I believe you retain the executive authority
necessary to lift the ban on crude oil exports, if you need
legislative support from the Congress in order to do so, you
will always have a willing partner from Alaska," Murkowski said.
    Murkowski, whose oil-rich state is the only one that can
already export crude, released a report in Washington last week
aimed at triggering debate among lawmakers on whether the
country should ease the restrictions. 
    While a reversal of the ban on U.S. crude exports is a "very
real risk" to the lower prices of North American crude oil
compared to global crudes - potentially increasing costs for
refiners - one oil analyst said he doesn't expect any action on
that front this year.
    "The rhetoric is really going to ramp up, but I don't think
the policy is going to change this year," Chi Chow, an oil and
refining analyst for Macquarie Equities Research, said during an
energy outlook presentation on Tuesday.
    Chow said lawmakers would first have to convince the public
that exporting U.S. crude is good policy, on the tails of years
of talk about the need for energy independence.
    "No politician in an election year will go down this path,"
he said.
    Murkowski does not at this stage plan to introduce
legislation to lift the ban, but she is willing to consider
taking such action if the president does not act, said Robert
Dillon, a spokesman for the senator.
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