Report: Feds hold off on oil export reviews

The Commerce Department has paused its reviews of at least two applications to export a lightly processed crude oil, giving officials time to consider whether to establish new policies on oil exports.

The companies have been told that their applications are being “held without action,” Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the issue. The developments came after last month’s news that Commerce had told two companies that they can export the lightly processed oil known as condensate.

Exports of crude oil are almost entirely banned from the United States, except to Canada or if it is processed. The condensate rulings, which happened in March but were revealed later, were the first time that fluid was allowed to be exported.

Sources told Reuters that the new delays would give Commerce time to consider whether to set policies on condensate exports or even a “frequently asked questions” document to guide future decisions. But it was not clear how long that would take, and Commerce declined to comment to Reuters on the entire matter.

Crude exports have been in the national attention recently as the United States has reached near record levels of oil production due to unconventional drilling techniques. Much of the oil being developed is of a light variety, while refineries in the United States were build for heavier oils.