Senators seek EIA research on crude oil export ban

The leaders of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee have asked the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to help them study issues related to lifting the ban on exporting crude oil.

Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), the panel’s chairwoman, and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), its ranking member, have both discussed eliminating the ban on crude exports previously. The ban was enacted in the 1970s amid the OPEC oil embargo.

“While we are aware that the EIA has limited resources and numerous reporting requirements to the Congress, we would like to covey the interest of our committee in the issue of crude oil exports, which are largely banned by statute,” the senators wrote in the Thursday letter to EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski. The EIA is an independent research arm of the Energy Department.

The senators said they are interested in analysis from the EIA regarding current and projected crude production, U.S. refining and distribution capacity, the competitiveness of U.S. refiners globally, the economic impact of the current ban and other questions.

“This is a complex puzzle that is best solved with dynamic and ongoing analysis of the full picture, rather than a static study of a snapshot in time,” the senators wrote.

The Energy Committee held a hearing on lifting the crude oil export ban in January. Landrieu and Murkowski, who represent states with high concentrations of oil production, signaled a willingness to explore eliminating the ban.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) introduced a bill to repeal the prohibition last week.