U.S. Crude Exports Argument Needs Refining

Friday, 8 February 2013
Financial Times

President Barack Obama wants to double US exports. Will these include crude oil?

This question, absurd until recently, is becoming serious. The US may still be a huge crude importer but rises in domestic supplies are shutting out millions of foreign barrels. This week the head of the International Energy Agency – a group that looks after western nations’ energy security – pointedly warned the US oil boom will end if Washington fails to lift its ban on most crude exports.

... But there is another reason why enabling crude export makes sense, says Bill Reinsch, former undersecretary for export administration at the US Department of Commerce. The US is leaning on allies to stop buying Iranian crude amid sanctions over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme. “It’s hard to tell them, ‘Don’t buy from Iran,’ and then deny them an alternative source,” Mr Reinsch says.

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