Conoco Says U.S. Should Consider Allowing Oil Exports

ConocoPhillips, the largest independent U.S. oil and natural gas producer, said the government should consider future exports of crude as domestic output rises.

Rising oil and gas production from the “shale revolution” means North America may become an energy exporter in the next decade, Ryan Lance, chief executive officer of ConocoPhillips, said in prepared remarks for a speech at the IHS CERAWeek conference in Houston today. Increased output has created bottlenecks and “price disconnects” that offer opportunities for oil and liquefied natural gas shipments, he said.

“In the case of the U.S., this means allowing future LNG exports -- and perhaps at some point even exports of oil,” Lance said. “They would improve the U.S. balance of trade, and create jobs and income -- both here and in the importing countries.”

The U.S. became a net exporter of petroleum products in 2011 for the first time in 62 years, according to the Energy Information Administration. Monthly U.S. oil production exceeded 7 million barrels a day in November, for the first time in 20 years. Exports of U.S. crude have been banned except for limited exceptions since 1975.

Exporting Oil

U.S. oil may potentially be exported to areas of the world that have refineries that process light, sweet crude, Lance said during a news conference in Houston today. Oil may be sent to locations such as Mexico, South America and Europe, he said.

Oil exports could follow gas projects. Companies including Cheniere Energy Inc. are proposing to export liquefied natural gas, or LNG, amid a surge in production. Combined, there are planned projects to liquefy more than 29 billion cubic feet a day for export from the U.S.

ConocoPhillips’ support for LNG exports is based on how much possible gas it sees, Lance said.

ConocoPhillips, based in Houston, became an independent producer last year with the spinoff of refining, chemical and pipeline businesses to form a separate company known as Phillips 66. Independent oil companies don’t have refineries or a chemical unit.

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