Export crude, not gas, to help allies, oil exec says

An oil executive told the House Foreign Relations Committee that the United States should export crude oil to allied countries to help their energy security and reduce Russia’s influence.

The testimony from Harold Hamm, chairman and CEO of Continental Resources Inc., came amid bipartisan calls to increase exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to undercut the influence Russia holds by being an energy superpower in Eastern Europe.

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“We could help with oil exports that could have an immediate impact all over the world,” Hamm, who is also chairman of the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, said at the Wednesday hearing.

While Ukraine and other Eastern European countries currently lack the infrastructure to import LNG from tanker ships, they have the infrastructure for oil.

“Making America a world leader in LNG exports is a worthy goal, but the truth of the matter is these new export terminals will not be up and running for some time,” he said in written testimony. “If we want to have an overnight impact on today’s global events, we can immediately begin exporting crude oil, which does not have the same infrastructure constraints.”

Continental has significant oil drilling operations in North Dakota's Bakken region, where it is one of the largest producers.

The Domestic Energy Producers Alliance said allowing crude exports are a “longstanding tenet” of its policy platform. A law passed during the 1970s OPEC oil embargo makes it illegal to export crude.

Continental also produces natural gas. Hamm called for quick approval of the 24 applications currently pending at the Department of Energy for projects to export LNG to countries with which the United States does not have a free-trade agreement.