One of the nation's premier oilmen testified in favor of ending a ban on oil exports Thursday before a Senate committee.
Continental Resources Inc. CEO Harold Hamm said the ban is one of only two remaining laws passed in the 1970s to artificially control the supply, demand and price of U.S. energy.
Now the nation is on the verge of energy independence, thanks to advances in oil and natural gas development, but Hamm said the industry's renaissance is in jeopardy.
“These outdated crude export restrictions have prevented domestic oil exploration and production from achieving its full potential — slowing potential job growth, restricting supply, and negatively affecting global refined product balances, which sends the wrong message to our trading partners around the world,” he said.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has called for the Obama administration to end the prohibition on oil exports.
“The International Energy Agency has warned that maintaining the ban may actually result in shut-in production, which would be to the detriment of the nation's livelihood,” Murkowski said. “Lifting the ban is about increasing domestic production and creating jobs.”
Sen. Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said any discussion of potential oil exports should consider the impact on American businesses and consumers.
Hamm, chairman of the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, dismissed claims that oil exports would lead to higher gasoline prices.
“The opposite is actually true,” he said. “By imposing trade restrictions on a single segment of the energy industry, namely domestically produced crude, our government is arbitrarily subsidizing some U.S. refineries — many of which are foreign-owned — by giving them the ability to source American oil at prices well below the world market price, while at the same time giving them the ‘green light' to sell petroleum products into higher-priced international markets.”
Hamm also said the U.S. already is exporting petroleum products.
“The popular belief is that we're not exporting petroleum. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “Major oil companies are exporting refined petroleum products like gasoline and diesel with no limitations.
“Why shouldn't independent producers be allowed to do the same? Are we to be relegated to forever being their milk cows?”
Murkowski said the Obama administration can lift the export ban without any congressional action, but the Energy Department is still studying the issue.