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Representative Joe Barton (R-Tex) introduced a bill yesterday that would remove restrictions on crude oil exports from the United States.

The bill plans to “remove all restrictions on the export of crude oil, which will provide domestic economic benefits, enhanced energy security, and flexibility in foreign diplomacy,” according to the bill’s text.

“The shale revolution has drastically reshaped America’s energy landscape, unlocking a vast supply of untapped oil and gas. In order to take full advantage of this opportunity, we need to rethink outdated laws that were passed during an era of energy scarcity,” said Rep. Barton.

Lawmakers are set to hold a hearing on the bill this Thursday at an Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing entitled: “The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975: Are We Positioning America for Success in an Era of Energy Abundance?”

Falling Oil Prices Bring the Issue back to the Forefront

The steep decline in oil prices “will weigh into the debate” and help make the case to lift the export ban, said Senator Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska Republican set to take over as head of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee next year, reports Bloomberg.

With prices down over 40% since June and production at record highs, many U.S. producers are looking to expose their oil to new markets. Since many U.S. refineries are equipped for heavier crude, instead of the light sweet that comes from shale formations, opening up the export market would give producers access to more customers.

“This is a global competition for market share,” said Erik Milito, upstream policy director for the American Petroleum Institute. “These other regions around the world want to raise the competitive pressure on U.S. energy and we’re asking our policymakers to at least put the U.S. on a level playing field.”

Many, including U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, believe it’s time to take another look at the nearly 40-year-old legislation that puts restrictions on the export of crude oil. “The international energy markets clearly look very, very different from what they looked like in 1975,” he said. “It’s worth a re-examination.”

While there continues to be a push on Capitol Hill, and from U.S. producers, to end the ban, not everyone is so excited to see export restrictions lifted. Some refiners are trying to keep the ban in place, reports Bloomberg. The refineries have benefitted from dropping crude prices in recent months, and opening the borders for exports would increase the domestic price and simultaneously impact margins on the downstream segment.

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Important disclosures: The information provided herein is believed to be reliable; however, EnerCom, Inc. makes no representation or warranty as to its completeness or accuracy. EnerCom’s conclusions are based upon information gathered from sources deemed to be reliable. This note is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or financial instrument of any company mentioned in this note. This note was prepared for general circulation and does not provide investment recommendations specific to individual investors. All readers of the note must make their own investment decisions based upon their specific investment objectives and financial situation utilizing their own financial advisors as they deem necessary. Investors should consider a company’s entire financial and operational structure in making any investment decisions. Past performance of any company discussed in this note should not be taken as an indication or guarantee of future results. EnerCom is a multi-disciplined management consulting services firm that regularly intends to seek business, or currently may be undertaking business, with companies covered on Oil & Gas 360®, and thereby seeks to receive compensation from these companies for its services. In addition, EnerCom, or its principals or employees, may have an economic interest in any of these companies. As a result, readers of EnerCom’s Oil & Gas 360® should be aware that the firm may have a conflict of interest that could affect the objectivity of this note. EnerCom, or its principals or employees, may have an economic interest in any of the companies covered in this report or on Oil & Gas 360®. As a result, readers of EnerCom’s reports or Oil & Gas 360® should be aware that the firm may have a conflict of interest that could affect the objectivity of this report.