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The E.U. joins voices calling for an end to the U.S. export ban

Many have called for the end of the crude oil export ban from the United States, saying the legislation is a relic of a global energy picture that no longer reflects reality. Among a myriad of financial and business reasons often cited for lifting the ban, research points out that lifting the ban would also increase energy security for both the U.S. and its allies.

Now one of the United States’ main allies on the global stage is joining the growing numbers calling for an end to the U.S. crude oil export ban.

Maros Sefcovic, vice president of the European Commission and the E.U.’s energy chief, said that the Union would like to include greater flows of liquefied natural gas and crude oil from the U.S. as part of the trans-Atlantic trade and investment partnership, or TTIP, that is currently under negotiation.

“We believe that the energy chapter in TTIP…could make a quite important contribution to the mutually beneficial trade exchange, but also to the energy security of the E.U.,” Sofcovic said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “We are the biggest market in the world; we are the biggest energy importer in the world. So I think we are a quite important destination for any energy exporter.”

Decreasing dependence on Russia

Sofcovic’s remarks come as the E.U. looks for ways to cut its energy dependence on Russia, which currently supplies about one third of the E.U.’s gas demand. As tensions continue to increase between Russia and the West over events in Ukraine, the E.U. is trying to find ways to diversify its energy mix.

Already, decreasing demand from Europe has caused Gazprom (ticker: GZPFY) to lower its production targets for 2015. Due to weaker demand from its largest market by revenue, as well as warmer weather and more competition at home, Russia’s top natural gas producer has cut its gas production target for a second time this year, reports the Business Times.

Gazprom plans to produce 450 billion cubic meters of gas in 2015, Vsevolod Cherepanov, head of gas, condensate and oil production at Gazprom told reports in Moscow earlier today. Previously, the company forecast output of 485 billion cubic meters, which was cut to 471 billion, according to a Q1 report released by the company last week.

Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered the Turkish Stream Pipeline as an alternative for European energy security. The Moscow-backed pipeline, which could include Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary, would offer “energy stability,” according to Lavrov. The foreign minister said that if the E.U. wants energy security, “then Brussels must…contribute to turning this idea into reality.”

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