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Should U.S. Reopen Spigot, Drop Ban on Export of Crude Oil?

Early in the new year the Obama administration and Congress find themselves grappling with a scenario that was unthinkable just a short time ago: What to do with the domestic oil flowing out of West Texas, North Dakota and other states?

The climb in domestic crude production has created a dilemma for both lawmakers and the White House, who are facing new pressure from oil companies to relax the nation’s 38-year-old ban on exports of the unprocessed product.

The current restrictions — born in the aftermath of the oil embargo of the 1970s — benefit some domestic refiners, who are selling record amounts of gasoline and other refined products to foreign customers. But their gains are coming at the expense of oil producers who face the prospect of dropping domestic prices for the commodity, as the U.S. produces more light sweet crude than it can handle.

“If we wouldn’t have had this massive, huge increase in the development of oil and natural gas, we wouldn’t be having this discussion; we’d still be living in the shadows of the 1970s,” said Charles Drevna, head of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers. “This is a good problem to have.”

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Keywords: U.S. energy sector, oil exports ban, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, oil embargo, logistics & supply chain

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