US approves two permits for crude exports

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The Obama administration chipped away at the decades-old ban on crude oil exports Tuesday night, opening a path for companies to slowly begin lifting it.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday night that in two unannounced rulings the Commerce Department gave permissions to Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and Enterprise Products Partners LP to sell a kind of ultralight oil know as condensate to foreign buyers.

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The two companies may begin shipping the oil overseas as early as August, but will likely do so in small doses.

The Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security approved the exports through a process called a private ruling.

The rulings apply specifically to the two companies, which requested permission to export the lightly processed condensate from south Texas' Eagle Ford Shale formation, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Calls to end the ban, which took effect during the Arab oil embargoes of the 1970s,  picked up momentum on Capitol Hill early this year.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) helped start the dialogue in the Senate, pressing the administration to lift the ban.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-La.) has also backs ending the ban, and has indicated she intends to hold a hearing on crude exports.

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