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Independents Unite to Lobby for U.S. Crude Exports

More than a dozen of the largest onshore independents, including ConocoPhillips, Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Encana Corp. and Chesapeake Energy Corp., have formed a pact to lobby for the right to export crude oil.

Producers for American Crude Oil Exports (PACE) is the first formal effort to attempt to end the almost 40-year ban on selling domestic oil overseas. Other producers initially joining the group are Concho Resources Inc., Continental Resources Inc., EOG Resources Inc., Hess Corp., Laredo Petroleum Inc., Marathon Oil Corp., Noble Energy Corp., Occidental Petroleum Corp. and Pioneer Natural Resources Co.

Washington, DC-based lobbying firm Williams & Jensen has been hired to represent PACE.

The formation of the group "reflects growing public awareness of the need to align policies in Washington with the economic opportunities made possible by America's oil abundance," said Executive Director George Baker. "Thanks to innovative technologies in the energy sector, the independent oil and gas producers in PACE are creating new jobs, helping to grow the economy and strengthening America's energy security."

A crude oil trade ban was enacted in the 1970s by Congress following the Arab oil embargo. However, some domestic oil is being exported today; exemptions exist for some California and Alaska crude; there also are crude oil shipments to Canada. According to the Energy Information Administration, oil exports in July climbed to 401,000 b/d, the highest level in 57-plus years. Exports included 400,000 bbl of light, sweet condensate, classified as a refined petroleum product that may be sold overseas.

The American Petroleum Institute and the Independent Petroleum Association of America have requested that Congress undo the trade restrictions. However, they represent diverse firms, including integrated operators. The Consumers and Refiners United for Domestic Energy, or CRUDE, represents refiners that want the ban to remain place.

In separate rulings in July, the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security allowed Pioneer and Enterprise Products Partners LP to export processed condensate from the Eagle Ford Shale (see Shale DailyJune 25). The rulings were narrow and applied to only the two companies under existing regulations. Other filings apparently are on hold.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) plans to continue to push to remove the export ban on condensates, spokesman Robert Dillon said (see Shale DailyJuly 29). If Republicans were to win the Senate in the November elections, Murkowski is poised to become chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Dillon said Murkowski likely would not push to end the ban in the end-of-year lame duck session, but wait until 2015.

Whether or not there is a leadership change in the Senate with attendant action in the Congress, getting past election day is likely to free up any number of state and federal administrative actions that have been held so they wouldn’t affect the election prospects of one party or the other.

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