Energy & Environment

GAO: Lifting oil export ban would cut gas prices

Lifting a decades-old ban on crude oil exports would reduce gas prices for consumers and increase the size of the economy, according to a new federal report.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, released on Monday, said repealing the ban would “likely increase domestic crude oil prices but decrease consumer fuel prices.”

{mosads}Lifting the ban would help bring the price of domestic crude oil closer to the international prices of crude, which would be beneficial to producers, the report states, and prevent a slowdown.

“Removing export restrictions is expected to increase the size of the economy, with implications for employment, investment, public revenue, and trade,” GAO states. “For example, removing restrictions is expected to contribute to further declines in net crude oil imports, reducing the U.S. trade deficit.”

Removing restrictions would also increase domestic production, to the equivalent of 8 million barrels per day this year.

Recently, the drop in international Brent crude caused concern among domestic oil producers, who worried that a bigger gap between U.S. and international crude prices could slow production and make drilling in certain oil formations less economic.

The report also goes against a main point of contention among those who oppose lifting the ban, claiming more exports would be beneficial to consumers.

While calls have increased on Capitol Hill to lift the ban, primarily among Republicans, a number of lawmakers are hesitant to get behind it.

Some have argued that more crude exports would hurt consumers and raise gas prices.

But the GAO report, which based its findings on studies and stakeholders, argues that “consumer fuel prices, such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, could decrease as a result of removing crude oil export restrictions.”

“A decrease in consumer fuel prices could occur because they tend to follow international crude oil prices rather than domestic crude oil prices, according to the studies and most of the stakeholders,” the report states.

The GAO recommends that Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz reexamine the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in light of changing market conditions.

The Energy Department agreed with the GAO’s suggestion but said a broader “long-range strategic review” of the reserve would be better in order to capture possible disruptions in supplies and impacts to energy security.

A strong proponent of lifting the ban, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), cheered the report on Monday, calling it a “welcoming addition” to “growing” evidence that supports “greater oil exports.” 

Tags crude oil exports Energy Department Ernest Moniz Government Accountability Office

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